Callifornia Desert District

"Isaac" Video Transcript

Sean Collins, Kern County Fire Department, California
"In the desert area out here is a playground for a lot of off-highway vehicle enthusiasts; dirt bikes, ATVs, sand vehicles.  We can get in excess of twenty-thousand people in one particular area.  I mean, over the whole of the desert area, it could swell to over fifty to one hundred-thousand people. We don’t know who they are, we don’t know where they are, we don’t know where they come from."

Brandon Vaccaro, California City Policy Department, California
"On the weekend of New Year's Eve we were out for our holiday weekend deployment, as we normally are on holiday weekends, and we received a call of a child in a mine shaft."

David Orr, California City Fire Department, California
"We’re out here doing our normal detail covering the desert during these busy holiday weekends.  We happened to be on one of the dirt roads, kind of cruising, patrolling the area when we heard a BLM come across our radio saying they had a possible young juvenile down a mine shaft.  So what we did was initiate our response to that area.  We made contact with the victim, determined his injuries, and at what pace we needed to move to extricate him.  We determined that he was injured with minor injuries, so we would have a little time to set up a system to get down there.  That’s when we decided to go ahead and we started to set up our system to get the juvenile out of the shaft, the mine shaft.  Of course, when we got there we noticed...we took a visual of the shaft, to see how far down the kid was, we looked down the hole and saw that he was approximately between thirty and forty (30-40) feet down the hole.”

Mike Weaver, California City Fire Department, California
“Initially when we were up above, we were trying to get lights down to him, talking to him, finding out how alert he is, does he know or remember how he got down into the hole? Was there any loss of consciousness?’”

Sean Collins, Kern County Fire Department, California
“The family had been out riding ATVs and from one of the recognized trails, at the top of that trailhead they had noticed an opening to what could have been mines, abandoned or not, and they decided to go exploring, and walked down toward the mines and took a look inside and took photographs. And one of the children in the party wandered off and as he walked around the corner, not ten feet in from the opening—obviously there was very little light, and the adjustment from the eyes from being in the bright sun to being in complete darkness—he fell down a thirty foot shaft.”

Mike Weaver, California City Fire Department, California
“I was the paramedic on scene, so I was the one who was going to go down in the hole. And I thought about it and I decided that why don't we just set up for the worst-case scenario as this is at this point, given the fact that there was a potential head injury and stuff, and let's get ready with a stokke's basket and the whole nine yards. So we're not down that and I get down there and find something more critical than I thought and then now we would need to change plans midway. “

David Orr, California City Fire Department, California
“At that time, we started lowering him giving him some safety gear; helmets, goggles, and a jacket to protect him from loose or falling debris that was coming from mid-shaft. Then we kept communication making sure he was able to talk to us and appeared normal medical wise  to get him out of the mine shaft.”

Mike Weaver, California City Fire Department, California
“He did state for one moment that he was a little vague on the memory of initially landing in the hole. He couldn’t remember that, and so that was another reason why we went full bar with the stokes and everything.  We took precautions, because we did not know if he had some sort of head injury. I asked him his name, birthday, just held a general conversation with him to see how he responds.”

David Orr, California City Fire Department, California
“First they went in horizontal, then it turned into a vertical shaft. So we were about ten feet into this horizontal shaft. Then if you make a sudden left turn it’s a thirty to forty foot vertical shaft straight down. So I stayed in the hole with the other firefighter just to make sure everything was safe up top.”

Mike Weaver, California City Fire Department, California
“I was concerned with just being in the hole and taking care of Issac at that time. I totally trust that the guys up above were going to get us out and fine.”

Sean Collins, Kern County Fire Department, California
“It still involved approximately twenty rescuers to go in. Not because it was a particularly difficult or deep rescue, but because of the hauling device and the fact that there was a tunnel  or an attic, and then a shaft inside the attic it was very difficult to get the equipment and people inside a small opening and then around the corner and then down the hole. And with the hauling system and the three to one advantage on the haul line where they could actually get their anchor points, that in itself was difficult.”

Mike Weaver, California City Fire Department, California
“For falling forty feet down a hole-- or whatever the exact distance is, I’m not exactly sure—he was in pretty good spirits. I think he was more scared and I think a little claustrophobic and that’s probably where some of his shortness of breath came from.  From what I understand, he was breathing a lot better once he got out.”

Sean Collins, Kern County Fire Department, California
“You can see these mine entrances from a distance. They don’t look any different closer up. I mean, once you get inside, should you decide you want to do that, you can’t see anything anyway - it's pitch black. All you’re going to do is probably injure yourself, or people that are with you. So the standard message is ‘Stay Out, Stay Alive’ is perfect. The trails are marked for a reason. They’ve been tried, they’ve been tested, they are safe. You move away from the trails, you’re in uncharted territory. We don’t know what's arround there. We’ve heard of the ground caving in as people have walked across it because people have been burrowing underneath previously. Stay out, stay alive, stay away.”

Mike Weaver, California City Fire Department, California
“Isaac was lucky.  He could have been severely injured, if not killed.  Because there was some debris and stuff in the bottom of that hole, that particular hole, he was lucky he did not fall on top of.”

Sean Collins, Kern County Fire Department, California
“Education is a good thing for a young age, if we can get the children and educate them as to the dangers of the desert. Yes it’s fun, come out and have a great time, have a great weekend; but be aware of the dangers that lie out there. There are probably thousands of mines, thousands of excavations that we don’t know about. So anybody can come out to the desert, pitch up a camp on the weekend, take their ATVs up into these mountains, which is so beautiful behind me and enjoy them. And if they don’t stay on the trail, there could be a huge problem. It’s a huge problem for us to get people and equipment out into these desolate areas and to effect a rescue safely and with positive consequences.”

David Orr, California City Fire Department, California
“Stay out and stay alive”

Issac is lifted out of the hole, strapped to a stokke's rescue basket.


Abandoned  Mine Lands