Firefighters talk about harrowing mountain rescue of teens

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PHOENIX -- It was a harrowing mountain rescue that played out on live TV Monday evening. Two teens were stuck quite literally between a rock and a hard place with no safe way to get down Camelback Mountain.

The boys, ages 13 and 14, were hiking in Echo Canyon when they went off the trail and got lost, eventually a point where they couldn't go up or down. Realizing they were in trouble, they did exactly the right thing. They stayed put and called for help.

Mountain rescues are relatively common here in the Valley, but there generally aren't so complicated. The entire operation took more than two hours.

Getting to the boys, who were stuck for several hours, was no easy feat. Two separate rescue crews were sent out. While one team approached the area from above, the other came up from below. In the meantime, the Phoenix Firebird helicopter was waiting to pluck the boys off the mountain and deliver them safely to their anxious parents.

Once rescuers got to the teens, they had to decide whether to rappel down to where the helicopter could safely land or take them up to where they could be harnessed and pulled up into the helicopter.

3TV's Ryan O'Donnell talked to members of the rescue teams Tuesday morning.

"It was either going to be bring the helicopter to them or take them to the helicopter," explained Chris Pearce. "It really worked out nicely. We had a good spot where we could hoist them out and get them off the mountain …."

Neither one of the teens, who reportedly are cousins, was hurt.

"It is very gratifying to be able to help somebody," said Rocky Northcutt, another member of the rescuer team. "We do a lot of training. There are a lot of professional guys out here. It's nice every now and then to use our skills, but we don't want to all the time, of course."