Firefighter Liam Flaherty couldn’t stand watching the news, seeing Haitians “with screwdrivers and hammers” trying to dig loved ones out from under tons of concrete.
“I knew if we were down there, with the tools we have, we could get those people out in five seconds,” said Flaherty, a captain in the city’s Urban Search and Rescue team.
The 80 squad members roamed the ruins of Port-au-Prince, calling out, “Cherchez pour la vie” — “We’re looking for the living,” he said.
They found a father digging in the rubble of an apartment building, trying to reach his children. He’d been digging for eight days.
“We formed a line and moved some of the rubble by hand, some we put into compound buckets,” said Flaherty. “After four hours, we could see a little hand and this set of beautiful eyes.”
It was Kiki Joachim, 7. They also rescued his 10-year-old sister, Sabrina. Several of their siblings died in the rubble.
Altogether New York City’s team saved six people from the ruins in Haiti.
“Six survivors out of thousands and thousands lost may not seem very significant,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who honored the team yesterday. “But to those six people and their families, it means everything.”