Five 11- and 12-year-old boys trapped in New York City’s sewer system have been told to “scream as loud as they can” to help firefighters find them before they are rescued.
Around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the children called 911 after climbing a quarter mile through Staten Island’s storm drain tunnels and then getting lost when they couldn’t find their way back.
The fire department has now released recordings of the search operation, showing how emergency call handlers tried to pinpoint their location, then told them they could be heard once rescuers got close enough.
“Now you can scream as loud as you can,” a dispatcher said. “They want you to scream and yell.”
The boys remained in the tunnel for about an hour, according to firefighters american city.
One of the firefighters used a rope to descend into the “small space” and then crawled along.
Meanwhile, colleagues opened manholes and entered the sewer system at various points, including one where four children were found and a fifth “with a broken leg” was rescued.
In an earlier recording, one of the boys said: “We’re stuck in the sewer.”
A dispatcher responded, “Where are you stuck?”
The second dispatcher said he was familiar with the area before trying to determine the exact location of the youths.
“Once you go down, the sewer is left, right, straight – where is it?” the dispatcher asked. “I need you to lead the way.”
‘Children fear rescuers will walk past them’
Dispatchers told the boys to scream when sirens were heard. At first, the children feared the rescuers would not stop.
“It sounded like they were passing us,” one boy said.
The dispatcher then assured the children: “They’re not going anywhere, we’re going to get you out.”
Hearing emergency responders say “we may now have access to the children” and then “we’ve removed all five children from the sewer”.
The children and a firefighter were taken to hospital for evaluation after the fire was successfully extinguished. No one was seriously injured.
Fire dispatcher Moises Arias explained on Instagram: “I got the initial call; a kid saying he was stuck in the Staten Island sewers. He wanted to give me a spot but wasn’t quite sure. Find out where he is.
“My fellow dispatcher at the time, Marlind Haxhialiu, was familiar with the area and he was able to describe the landmarks to them in order to pinpoint where the children had entered the sewer system.
“We told them to start shouting for help. I kept trying to reassure them and keep them calm.”
The kids were ‘very crazy’
Colleague Marlind Haxhialiu added on social media: “When I talk to the kids they are absolutely crazy. I ask them questions to narrow down where they are going into the sewer system based on what I know about the area.
“I was able to identify where they came in.”
“The fire department recovered the children’s belongings at the sewer entrance. I am delighted that everyone was able to come together to save the five children.”