“We should be close to the plane crash site now,” my partner, Larry, announced. I huffed as beads of sweat trickled down my forehead. Though I had been working in search and rescue for years, I still felt nervous about messing up terribly before every mission. To calm my nerves, I straightened my vest and pushed back my raven hair. I listened to the steady paced beeps emanating from the radar on our helicopter as it swept for signs of any aircraft in the vicinity. The small plane was from an airline that originated from Germany and had lost signal somewhere in this forest.
Suddenly, the radar beeped louder and more rapidly. I responded to the radio, “It seems we have spotted the site – getting ready to land.” Just barely, I could make out wisps of smoke that drifted out from the treetops. As we got closer, the small wisps of smoke became gargantuan dark plumes, blurring our vision. Cautiously, we made our descent into the forest.
As we got closer to the wreckage, flames had already spread to multiple parts of the forest. Larry, who always lifted the team’s spirits, was recounting some event that had happened last night. Trudging on, the crackling of the fire filled our ears. An involuntary shriek from our teammate reverberated through the forest. I rushed to question the source, but before I could say a word, a disembodied charred arm shot into sight. We all shuddered and continued onwards.
When we finally reached the aircraft, there were orange flames licking the wing blades. The paint on the aircraft was burnt to a crisp and was flaking off. There were bodies scattered around the site. I cringed at the sight of dried blood stuck to someone’s burnt skin and saw one of our greener teammates gag at the sight. Just then, a loud wail ripped through the air. It came from under the aeroplane.
Hurriedly, we got behind the aircraft. There was a woman with matted hair and puffy eyes crying out for help. A young man was throwing his entire body against the aircraft, trying to lift the bulky metal off her.
“We are the search and rescue party and we’ve come to help,” I assured the duo. “Larry, you and your team look for other survivors. My team will stay and help. Got it?” I announced loudly to the whole crew. They nodded in unison and rushed to their tasks. Using a lever, my team and I exerted all our strength to try and heave the heavy piece of wreckage off, but it would not budge. We pushed on, knowing that we had to do our best to save this woman.
After a few hours, we managed to lift the wreckage and extract the woman. Larry returned and saluted before informing me that more survivors had been found. As we helped the woman up, I instructed, “Make sure to get the survivors to the safer location near our helicopter.”
Eventually, I made my way back to our helicopter where I met with the survivors. Fortunately, they escaped death, but suffered from burn injuries and broken bones. After some basic medical attention, we helped them into the helicopter. I could hear sniffling in the back and sighed. Seeing the victims cry over the loss of their loved ones and family members was heartbreaking.
This mission was one of the hardest I had gone on. However, what mattered was that we saved as many victims as we could from the crash. By the end of the mission, I was exhausted to the bone, but relieved that the mission was a success.