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AFD's Heavy Technical Rescue Team Saves Couple

Friday's Heroes: Albuquerque Fire Department (AFD) Heavy Technical Rescue Crews

April 29, 2016

Albuquerque- Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry recognized the heroic actions of personnel from the Albuquerque Fire Department (AFD) for their teamwork and courage to save a trapped couple from an island near a flooded arroyo.

On June 26th of 2015, Albuquerque experienced extreme weather in the form of a torrential rain storm. At approximately 10:45 pm, a woman frantically called 911 explaining that she and her fiancé were clinging to a tree while trapped on an island near the arroyo and that the water was rapidly rising.

AFD units were dispatched to Central and Tramway and began to search the area known as the “Box”. This particular section of the arroyo drainage system consists of steep drops and sudden changes from concrete flood channels to natural arroyos with heavy brush, making water rescues in this area exceedingly difficult and dangerous.

While the engine and rescue drivers drove around the area using spot lights mounted on their trucks, firefighters dismounted and continued to search for the couple on foot using flashlights. Commander Jed Hyland arrived on scene and took command of the situation and immediately recognized it to be a Heavy Technical Rescue incident and called for Squad 2 and Rescue 3 crews to assist with the challenging incident. AFD’s Heavy Technical Rescue Teams staff Fire Station 3 and respond to not only medical and fire calls but also to high angle, low angle, confined space, and swift water rescue incidents.

When the resources arrived, the crews located the couple still clinging to the tree on the island surrounded by rising water. The crews cut through and rolled back a section of chain link fence in order to gain access to the victims. Working together, the crews used one of the trucks positioned along the bank of the arroyo as an anchor point. Captain Lloyd Rantanen and Lt. Justin Spain led the Heavy Technical Rescue team by configuring a rope pulley system to lower firefighters along the arroyo bank. They were then able to lead the stranded couple one at a time to safety.

The Firefighters and Paramedics demonstrated teamwork and bravery while entering into a dangerous situation to rescue the couple. It is for these reasons and their dedication to public safety that these individuals are being awarded as Albuquerque’s Friday’s Heroes.



Albuquerque Fire Department (AFD)

Battalion Commander Jed Hyland

            Quality Assurance Officer: Captain Jason Martinez

            Squad 2: Captain Lloyd Rantanen, Driver Fredrick Sanchez, FF James Goodwin, and FF Elliot Knighton

            Rescue 3: Paramedic Lt. Justin Spain and Paramedic Driver David Baca

            Engine 12: Lt. Andrew Casaus, Driver Joshua Cisneros, FF Cody Harper and FF Fred Rivera

            Rescue 12: Lt. Thomas Ruiz and Driver Jason Martin

            Engine 16: Lt. Lawrence Orona, Driver Julie Podhrasky, FF Marc Duran and FF Manuel Martinez