A 4-foot, 11-inch Georgia firefighter came to the rescue of a 1-year-old toddler after he fell down a storm drain.
Rosa Tullis, of the East Point Fire Department, was sent down a small hole that measured just about a foot wide, in a harness and street clothes, to rescue Darnell Brown Sunday night. The toddler was sitting on the storm drain cover when his foot slipped into the hole, plunging him to the bottom of the approximately 20 foot drain, authorities said.
When firefighters arrived, the boy’s family was gathered around the drain, calling his name.
“Initially we lowered the ladder down and we saw immediately it was not enough space,” Tullis said. “At that point, they decided to put me in the full body harness and lower me down into the storm drain.”
Once Tullis reached Darnell was, the space was still too small for her to take him back up to the surface.
“When I was down there he was really clingy and really holding on, which was making it hard for me to maneuver him,” Tullis said. “I just hugged him like I do my own little boys.”
She had to put the toddler on her shoulders and push him over her head to another firefighter who reached into the drain to pull him out, she said. Tullis was in the drain for approximately 25 minutes.
“I’m slightly claustrophobic so it’s probably one of the most uncomfortable situations to be in,” Tullis said.
“It’s really uncomfortable to be in a tight space with dirt and spiders, with little light, and a baby clutching on to you,” Tullis said. “But the outcome was great.”
When Darnell was safely out of the drain, and reunited with relieved family members who passed him around for reassuring hugs, Tullis said she was driven to tears
“I just don’t know what to say,” the boy’s grandmother, Kesha Brown, told ABC affiliate WSB. “My baby is all right.”
Darnell received a few scrapes and bruises from the fall and was taken to Egleston Children’s Hospital for examination, but he has been released. Tullis had a few scrapes but was otherwise unharmed.
“It was a really great day and a privilege to bring him back to his family safely,” she said.
Tullis, 50, has been a firefighter for almost seven years and this isn’t the first time the department has put her small size to good use. Last year she was sent down a storm drain to rescue a puppy.
More than a dozen firefighters assisted Tullis with the rescue Sunday night. She says she is proud to represent her department.
“It definitely was a joint effort,” said a modest Tullis. ”I was just one of the players in the whole rescue operation.”