A four-man rescue team composed of Pasadena and San Gabriel firefighters is credited with helping save the life of another firefighter who went into anaphylactic shock and stopped breathing while battling the North Complex Fire in Northern California on Tuesday, officials said.
The local firefighters — two from Pasadena and two from San Gabriel — are part of a Rapid Extraction Module Support, or REMS, team, which specializes in rescuing fellow firefighters and civilians from dangerous and remote places amid wildfires, Pasadena spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
It was exactly such a situation that arose Tuesday as firefighters battled the 269,358-acre North Complex fire, which was sparked by lighting on Aug. 17, according to Cal Fire. It was 32% contained, with more than 3,500 firefighters working to control it.
“The firefighter went into anaphylactic shock, then respiratory arrest in a remote area,” Derderian said. Further details regarding the medical episode or its cause were not available.
Due to the remote conditions and steep forest terrain, “They had to set up an extended hoist operation,” she said.
The ill firefighter was recovering well at last report, according to Derderian.
Four Pasadena firefighters are currently assigned two REMS teams at the North Complex Fire, she said.
A relatively new concept in firefighting, the Pasadena Fire Department forced its first REMS teams over the past year, officials said.
They are selected from members of existing Urban Search and Rescue Teams, applying similar skills and techniques to rescues in the great outdoors.
The two REMS teams at the North Complex Fir are expected to remain in Northern California through the rest of next week.