AFR’s REM Team makes first of its kind rescue in Arizona

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It came down to the right training with the right tools at the right time. That is what Albuquerque Fire Rescue said about saving the life of another firefighter battling wildfires in Arizona.

As wildfires ravage the west, firefighters from all over the country are deploying to battle the flames. That includes AFR. Their Rapid Extraction Module Team, or REM Team, was assigned to a wildland fire in southeast Arizona last month. “It was very steep, rugged and rocky,” Lt. Courtney Rhoades said. “There was a lot of smoke and fire.

Rhoades is one member of the team made up of four highly trained people with specialized equipment called upon to rescue other firefighters. “It was something we expected to do so we went in knowing that it would be our job if any firefighter is in need of help,” Rhoades said.

Their skills were put to the test during their time in Arizona. They were dispatched to save the life of a firefighter from another state their second day there. “He was experiencing heat exhaustion close to a heat stroke, so he was cramping bad,” Rhoades said. “He already stopped sweating and was disoriented.”

They located the firefighter who had wandered far away from the fire line and called in for a helicopter rescue. “We definitely got a lot of praise thanking us and being very grateful that we were there,” Rhoades said.

Rhoades found out the following day that the man was treated and released. “It is unfortunate they had to utilize us, but it is a nice feeling we were there and could provide help,” Rhoades said.

AFR said rescues like this are exactly why the team was formed a year ago after seeing a need for it following several other deployments. This was the first rescue of its kind for the REM Team. The department is in the process of forming a second REM Team to be ready during next year’s fire season.

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