MILLBURN, NJ - To hear the first responders tell it, the rescue of a young girl from a tree in Millburn late last month was just business as usual.
But at Tuesday's township committee meeting, the firefighters and officers were thanked with a proclamation for their selfless act.
As the township noted in the proclamation, Millburn Fire Battalion Chief Boyle, Captains Keating and Pershin and Firefighters Echavarria, Aunhammer, Peterson, Tallody and DiCostanzo, along with Millburn Police Lieutenant Ronceray, Detective Mendelsohn and Officers Lanni, Barbosa and Crawn performed a selfless and heroic act in rescuing the young girl from the tree.
When it came to rescuing the girl from the rickety tree, first responders had several roadblocks. The tree was old and rickety, and according to the police on the scene, the little girl had developmental disabilities. Upon assessing the situation, Echavarria requested that he be allowed to climb the tree for the rescue, which was approved by Pershin.
According to the report, Echavarria climbed the tree, which was just a few feet from active power lines, and began speaking to the girl. In order to distract her from the situation and gain her trust, Echavarria asked her about the Disney movie Frozen.
When she replied that she had seen it, Echavarria, "Well I haven't, so if you come over to me, will you tell me about it?" The girl said yes and came over to Echavarria. As he secured the girl, he then climbed down the tree.
From there, the situation became dangerous, as the incident report narrative notes that branches in the tree continued to break.
At that point, Officers Lanni and Barbosa stepped up to form a chain, passing the girl down to the ground and back to her family. After being rescued, she was looked at by the Millburn/Short Hills First Aid Squad on site.
"Echavarria's quick thinking to ask the little girl bout a child's movie and gain her trust helped turn a very dangerous situation into a successful rescue," The report stated.
Speaking after the first responders received the proclamation, Fire Chief Robert Echavarria and Police Chief Brian Gilfedder both said they were proud of the work their men did on the scene.
"The police officers do that every day," Gilfedder said. "They put their personal safety aside and rescue the citizens, and it's just part of their everyday job."
"They're used to climbing heights," Echavarria said. "but to me, tonight is about the work that they did and the police officers. they went up, they climbed that tree on their own and just utilized a tool...and it just happened to work out."
"I appreciate all their hard work that they do day in and day out," Echavarria added.