DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- Risky, treacherous, difficult: that was the rescue mission facing the specially-trained firefighters who rushed to Stone Mountain on Tuesday to extract two, injured hikers.
The hikers had slid and fallen down a steep slope.
But Tuesday night, their rescuers could look back and call it a good day.
Any day everyone comes out of a life-threatening emergency okay, they say, is a good day.
They train for this.
They train to go into areas of Stone Mountain that are so dangerous, hikers are not supposed to be in these restricted areas, ever.
They train for this because hikers do wander off, get themselves in trouble -- which two teens, ages 17 and 18, did during their hike on Tuesday, sliding and falling, getting hurt, and unable to climb out.
"Both the patients with injuries were at the bottom, the very, very bottom of the mountain, by the stream," said Capt. Davy Duke.
The rescuers serve with the DeKalb CountyFire and Rescue Department, and are part of Company 24'selite "Technical Rescue" team.
Theyclimbed into the same, dangerous part of Stone Mountain that had just nearly killed the two hikers.
"We're walking on the same surfaces that got them in trouble to start with," Capt. Duke said. "You've got to size up the situation, see where your dangers are, overcome them by ropes, pullies, webbing, whatever you've got to get you to the patient safely."
And they pulled the hikers out to safety, safely.
"Stone Mountain Fire Engine Number Two was first on scene," Capt. Duke said, "he actually located the patients and directed us in from there, and started the patient assessment. He relayed what he had and what he needed, because he is a rope tech, as well.... We loaded each one of them on a stokes basket. You strap them in, they can't move around, it stabilizes all their injuries. And then we set up a raise-lower system, because we had a couple of obstacles to overcome, getting them out."
One obstacle, besides the steep and rugged terrain -- the rescuers ran into a swarm of yellow jackets.
But in their favor -- it just so happens the team knows this part of Stone Mountain well.
"That same spot right there, we've done numerous trainings on that spot with low-angle and high-angle rescues," said Capt. Andy Rivero. "Usually we go to that spot to train. That same spot where the two kids were is where we train a lot. So we are very familiar with the area."
They respond, on average, every couple of months to emergency calls to help rescue hikers, and they are trained to minimize the risk to their own lives so they can save others at risk of losing theirs.
"I'm just lucky to be surrounded by a group, a good group of guys like we have," said Acting Battalion Chief Melvin Carter. "They do work hard, train extremely hard, and when we do have these types of calls, I'm fully confident that they are able to handle them."
The Officers and Fire Apparatus Operators on duty, and on this call, on Tuesday: Capt. Andy Rivero, FAO Beau Lance, FAO Joel Jennings, FAO Brandon Jimerson, Capt. Stevy Duke, FAO Jake Sosebee, Acting Battalion Chief Melvin Carter, FAO Christoper Cavender.
They made this a good day.
"Our number one goal is just to go home every day, just to go home safe," FAO Lance said. "Send everybody home safe. And if we can send the people that we go to rescue home safe, that's just our job" and top priority.
One teen had head injuries, but he was conscious and talking.
The other had a lot of bruises and scrapes.
They were taken to area hospitals.
Stone Mountain Park Police concluded that the teens and the two others in their group, a father and his 12 year old son, learned their lesson the hard way; they will not be charged with going into the restricted area of the mountain.