In an amazing act of valor, the Los Angeles Fire Department air rescue unit rescued a dog from the raging waters of the Los Angeles river after days of torrential downpours that have caused the evacuations of several local communities.
Captured live on local and national news stations (KTLA Channel 5 in this case), a rescue hero identified as Firefighter St. George, rappelled from a helicopter and wrestled the frightened German Shepherd into a harness with which he was airlifted out of the river and onto the roadway. Our hero, Firefighter Joe St. Georges, is currently being treated at LA County USC Medical Center for wounds to his hands suffered in the rescue.
In a further act of compassion, the firefighters then placed the cold, wet and frightened dog into their paramedic truck to be taken to safety.
The Shepherd is currently being housed at:
Seaaca Animal Shelter
9777 Seaaca Street,
Downey, CA 90241
Phone: 562 803-3301
These rescuers are our heroes, folks!!
As reported by Captain Steve Ruda from LA City Fire, these fire fighters came from Fire Station 44 in the Atwater Village area on Cyprus Avenue. The helicopter team came from Air Operations in Van Nuys, CA. The incident Commander was Chief Manning at Division Commander Headquarters.
As one who has New York Fire Department family members, as well as family members who are volunteer fire fighters in several areas of New York State, including one very dedicated volunteer Fire Chief, I've spent my lifetime in awe of these great heroes.
As an animal lover, I'm even more in awe today. Thank you guys for a job well done!
STORY UPDATED 10pm (PST): Firefighter Joe St. Georges has been released from the hospital with severe lacerations to his hand and arm inflicted by the dog, currently dubbed "Vernon" in honor of the place of his rescue. Despite St. Georges' injuries, he retains the gentility and compassion to forgive Vernon - understanding Vernon's perspective as an animal in jeopardy in fear for his life.
Here's the latest video in the saga of Fire fighter hero Joe and Vernon the German Shepherd, also broadcast on KTLA Channel 5. (Pardon the video quality. This is an issue with my camera and not with KTLA):
As suggested by KTLA reporter Elizabeth Espinosa, for further information on Vernon, please log on to KTLA.com or call the good people at Seaaca Animal Shelter at the number listed above.
Author's note: These last 10 days since the catastrophe in Haiti have been excrutiatingly painful. I posted this piece because this one happy outcome offers a needed bright moment after incomprehensibly tragic days. The Los Angeles Fire Department currently has heroes just like Joe deployed to Haiti. I'm grateful every day for their valor, inspiration and selfless dedication.