Daring Helicopter Rescue

Los Angeles firefighters managed to pull off a daring helicopter rescue this week. A 14-year-old girl fell nearly four stories down the side of a cliff from her backyard. One rescuer managed to fit the girl with a harness, and they were both airlifted to safety.

Firefighter Dave Wallinger was on the ground and able to support Justine Joy and keep her from falling any further, firefighter Ron Massie tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Massie was the first to get in contact with Justine Joy, from the helicopter.

"She was extremely nervous and hard to even manage," Massie says. "She was pretty much stuck to the side of that cliff. She wasn't moving."

Massie stayed tethered to the helicopter as opposed to getting off and trying to hook her up because the terrain was so steep. The don't quite do it justice.

"It looked pretty steep from our angle," Massie says. "It was pretty tough to even stand on. Dave did a real good job of even standing up. That's why I stayed online. A lot of times, we'll get offline from our rescue harness and support her, but this one, we felt we needed to stay online and rescue her the way we did."

Justine was hiking on the edge of the cliff in what was apparently her backyard. She fell off the cliff and was unable to climb back up.

Firefighter Fred Chavez was in the helicopter. "I'm the one who lowered Ron down and positioned the helicopter and talked to the pilot," he explains. "At that point, it's hard for the pilot to see the victim, so I'm talking Vance into that position. I am getting Ron into position to pick her off and I do what's called the 'short haul.' Instead of bringing her up to the helicopter, we do a short haul. So we keep as low as possible and put them in a predesignated spot with the backyard."

Fortunatelly, Chavez points out, the weather was in their favor. "A lot of times, we have different obstacles, but we didn't have any other obstacles like wind and wires to contend with."

Pilot Vance Colvig adds, "We work as a team. Before we start we go through a check list, and we also run through a strategy or a plan. So we work the plan, but we all know exactly what is expected of one another. It works out well. It's a real team effort."

Justine Joy was transported to a local hospital to be evaluated. She suffered only minor bruises and abrasions.
  • Tatiana Morales

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