MARICOPA, Ariz. — A family of six was in their SUV in Maricopa last week when monsoon rain was pummeling the area.
They thought they could make it across a flooded road near Warren Road and Val Vista but ended up trapped on the roof desperate for help.
Within minutes, Arizona's Department of Public Safety was responding to help Pinal County with an air rescue
Trooper Paramedic Eric Tarr was lowered onto the tail of the SUV, untethered as to not add weight to the unstable SUV, to rescue four children.
"When it comes to kids, we don't have a lot of options," Tarr said. "There's just not a lot of commercial pediatric devices out there when it comes to these rescues."
Another paramedic with DPS, Russ Dodge, was strapped to the helicopter and was able to secure each victim safely into the aircraft from the rushing floodwater below.
"We were doing a lot of crew resource coordination, so we practice that where we're communicating with each other. Our paramedic we put in the water didn't have a radio, so I was using hand signals and other means of communications, trying to relay information to our pilot," he explained.
Meanwhile, the crew's pilot, Jake Arnold, focused on keeping the aircraft steady as crews physically passed children by hand to one another.
"We move with a purpose but we're not rushing and we just kind of know each other's capabilities so we go into with that in our back pocket," Arnold said.
The three-man crew along with multiple ground agencies successfully saved each person on the top of that SUV.
While DPS crews train for rescues just like this, they say there have been even more this year with a combination of burn scars and active monsoon.
"There's nowhere for that water to go, so when it does fall in large amounts, it's going to flow where it wants to and create some major challenges," Dodge said.
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