BLEECKER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Three children lost on a Fulton County mountain were located safe and sound thanks to first responders, 911 dispatchers and a quick thinking girl with a cellphone.
On Sunday evening, the Caroga Lake Volunteer Fire Company was sent on a search and rescue mission on County Route 112, near Bump Road in Bleecker. A 10-man rescue crew responded to the area just after 5:00 p.m. with a rescue truck, a utility truck, and an ATV trailer.
Officials say three children, two nine-year-olds and one six-year-old, were lost in the woods after wandering away from a friend’s home they were staying at. A communications specialist at the Fulton County Communications Center kept one of the nine-year-olds on the line and plotted their exact location, keeping rescue crews updated on the children’s status. “Because it’s a mountainous area we didn’t want to lose them. We wanted to keep them on the phone,” said Corey Uhlinger, a Fulton County Emergency Services Dispatcher.
Another dispatcher contacted the Caroga Lake Volunteer Fire Company and that’s when Chief Howard Dutcher and his crew grabbed their ATV’s and headed out. But having a general location for where to look for the missing kids was critical. Dispatcher Troy LaPorte showed News10’s Anya Tucker how they used cellphone towers and a special mapping system to triangulate an approximate location as to where the girl’s call originated from.
“When we got the fire department to the area that was as close to them via the road that we could, I asked them to turn their sirens on in hopes that the kids could hear it. Cause if he kids could hear it, you know, they’re not so far away,” said Uhlinger. Chief Dutcher said as their ATVs got closer to the kids, dispatchers could hear their motors over the girl’s phone. “Dispatch is relaying to us that, ‘Hey we can hear your ATVs on our radios.’ So we know that we are very, very close and that’s when we hooked up with the three individuals.”
They made contact with the lost children around 5:38 p.m. Except for a few scratches and bug bites, The kids were fine and returned to their very relieved parents. All thanks to the coordinated efforts between dispatchers and first responders in the field.
Assisting at the scene were New York State Police, Fulton County Sheriff’s Patrols, and GAVAC ambulance. Fire officials say continuous strong work by the Fulton County Communication Specialists at the 911 center helped make this call a very timely, positive outcome.