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Teamwork Praised in Dramatic River Rescue

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, November 23, 2010, at 09:27AM
LAFD Rescue Helicopter Eric Richardson

LAFD pilot Scott Davison speaks to the media about Sunday’s river rescue during a press conference held atop City Hall East.

Close coordination between police and fire crews was credited Monday for saving the life of a man swept into the Los Angeles River one day earlier.

Helicopter crews from both departments were involved in the rescue, which culminated with a fire rescue crew pulling the man out of the water while flying backward along the river channel.

“I’ve never seen that,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a press conference held atop City Hall East. “I didn’t know it was possible.”

LAPD tactical flight officer Chad Reuser was working in the tower at Piper Technical Center’s Hooper Memorial Heliport on Sunday morning when he saw a man fall into the river underneath the 1st Street bridge just before 8am on Sunday morning.

He used the facility’s public address system to notify on-call officers, who were off the ground in a helicopter within four minutes. They caught up with the man just before he passed under the 6th Street bridge.

The officers put out a call to LAFD’s Fire 3 , which responded from Van Nuys within minutes.

Firefighter Armando Carranza was lowered into the water from the hovering helicopter as the man was swept into Vernon, grabbing hold of him near the Bandini Boulevard bridge.

“For us, it was just another day at the fire station,” said LAFD pilot Scott Davison, who was at the controls of the rescue helicopter on Sunday.

“It feels good,” he continued. Like a well-oiled football team, we practice, practice, practice and then we want to go to the game.”

“For us, this was just a Sunday game.”

It took just 25 minutes from that first spot for the fire crew to drop the man off at a hospital. Though bloody and suffering from hypothermia when pulled out of the 50-degree water, the man was released from the hospital later on Sunday in good health.

“Through teamwork and because the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department love working together and they’re good at it, his life was saved,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

LAFD River Rescue 11-21-2010 from LAFD on Vimeo.

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