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Successful rescues: 'There's no better feeling'

January 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
[Editor's note: Eyewitness News Anchor David Ono and ABC7 Photographer Sean Patrick Lewis arrived Monday in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to cover events following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday, Jan. 12.]SEARCH-AND-RESCUE HEROES

Two children were rescued from rubble Wednesday. It's been unbelievable work done by these search-and-rescue teams throughout the past week and a half here in Port-au-Prince. That's why I wanted to catch up with the urban-search-and-rescue teams from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

There's a rumor floating around that they have rescued people at an unprecedented level. They won't tell you that, and the numbers haven't been totaled up yet, but that's what we're hearing on the ground. They certainly deserve the credit.

Tuesday we saw a YouTube video posted of them pulling a woman out of a building Sunday as a crowd gathered around them, chanting "USA!" I went to the American Embassy where they are headquartered. I found two of those rescue crewmen, Shawn Grizzard and Carlo Loffredo, and asked them about the incident.

"We had just rescued a young female, probably in her late 20s, and we were carrying her out of a collapsed hotel," said Grizzard. "And at that time, when we were carrying her out of the building, there was a large crowd of Haitian people chanting, 'USA! USA!'

"They stood there the entire time, probably five or six hours, while we attempted this rescue," continued Grizzard. "It was really chilling and an experience I'll never forget."

"The crowd was yelling 'USA, USA' and for myself and a few of the other rescuers it kind of brought a chill down our spines just to hear that," said Carlo Loffredo. "We train on this kind of stuff every day and just to actually come out here and save a life among all this rubble is just amazing."

"It's a feeling you get that you're helping other humans," said Grizzard. "There's no better feeling. There's nothing you can do that'll make you feel better about yourself than that type of experience."

Any messages for folks in Los Angeles? What do you want to say to them?

"That I care about them, and we'll be home soon," said an emotional Loffredo.

That rescue team was on yet another mission Wednesday night.

I asked Grizzard whether he felt they will still find people alive. He didn't even hesitate: "Absolutely," he said.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

Something interesting happened today while we were on our way to the American Embassy. On the drive down, I saw two young boys who were fixing up a child's coffin at a mortuary.

I went inside to see what was going on. I thought that would probably be one of the busiest places in Port-au-Prince right now.

I walked in and there was no business. There were coffins stacked empty.

I talked to the mortician, the man who owned the place, and he said he's not busy at all. He said he has no business because nobody in Port-au-Prince has any money to bury their dead.


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