Public Safety

Rope Rescue Equipment Snared Just in Time

Two motorists whose vehicle crashed 200 feet over the side of Interstate 15 recently were pulled up to safety using newly acquired Low Angle Rope Rescue Operation (LARRO) gear purchased by the County Fire Authority.

Firefighters from the Cal Fire Miller station responded to the traffic collision rescue just before 2 a.m. Nov. 19, north of West Lilac Road in North County. LARRO gear is specifically used for over-the-side freeway accidents, mountainous terrain rescues, and patient extrications when they are located in rough areas.

“The crew was able to deploy their new LARRO equipment prior to any other units having to arrive on scene,” said Fire Marshal Tim Fitzgerald of the County Fire Authority. “This station did not previously have any of this specialized equipment on their engine. Having this gear available to them allowed for safe patient access and investigation of injuries in a timely manner.”

The County Fire Authority recently purchased five complete LARRO kits for $35,000. The new equipment was delivered the second week of November and was put into use the very next week.

The County Fire Authority and Cal Fire placed the equipment at five fire stations after doing an equipment assessment of the fire stations in the county. Ultimately, the gear was assigned to the Cal Fire Miller Station, Pine Valley Fire District, the County Light and Air Unit, Palomar Mountain Volunteer Fire Station, and the Warner Springs/Sunshine Summit Volunteer Fire Station.

“We felt that these locations had both the highest potential for use and the most need for equipment due to a lack of it or old, out-dated equipment on hand,” Fitzgerald said. “The County Light and Air Unit is also a key location for the equipment because that unit has the ability to be dispatched to all areas throughout the County for a specialty response to structure fires, swiftwater rescues, and LARRO calls. The unit carries a wide array of equipment to assist our firefighters on the most challenging calls.”

The fire authority, Cal Fire and other partnering agencies were involved in the acquisition and deployment of the LARRO equipment. Fitzgerald said partnerships like this directly benefit San Diego County residents by providing a stronger Fire, EMS, and Rescue response in the unincorporated areas of the County.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact