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Firefighters hailed heroes for rescuing trapped people in freezing cold

2023-03-16 (chinadaily.com.cn)



Recently, firefighters in Hulunbuir, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region successfully rescued eight people trapped in a blizzard. Photos showing the frozen–solid rescuers went viral on Chinese social media and touched the hearts of many people, CCTV News reported on Tuesday.

On March 10, the temperature in Hulunbuir dropped significantly. The level 7 wind gusts and blizzards created "drifting snow" – a harsh weather condition in the region.

"We received a phone call for help at 12:46 pm, saying there were drivers stranded on the No 332 national highway in Hailaar district," said Qi Yuehua, who's in charge of a patrol spot of Xin Barag Left Banner Fire and Rescue Brigade.

"The visibility was less than 5 meters that day, and the snowy road was slippery, making driving very difficult. It was hard to tell which way it was to the rescue site, and the two rescue vehicles with 12 firefighters had to rely on previous driving experience," Qi recalled, adding that it took more than an hour that day to drive for a journey that usually takes only ten minutes.

At 2:18 pm, the rescue team arrived at the scene, finding that the thickest snow accumulation was nearly one meter, and the stranded vehicle's tires were covered with snow. The firefighters immediately started rescue work, first digging through the snow that blocked the car with a shovel, and then pushing the vehicle away with manpower. After more than an hour of rescue work, all eight people trapped in three cars were rescued.

Qi explained that during the spring season in March each year, the local area sometimes experiences extreme and harsh weather conditions that may cause vehicles and personnel to be stranded. "In this extreme weather, if the rescue work is not carried out in time, the stranded individuals are likely to be in danger," he said.

The protagonist in the viral "frozen man" photo on the internet is Ge Zebing. He is 26 years old and has been a firefighter for nine years. "The wind was particularly strong that day and the snow hitting our faces felt like needles. The temperature felt below minus 20 degrees Celsius, and there was ice on our bodies," Ge said.

According to him, during the rescue, he only thought about getting the stranded people out of danger as soon as possible. It was only after the rescue was completed that he realized how cold and tired he was. "I am very happy and satisfied that I completed the task," he said.

"Our firefighters are all young men who have been trained and are well-practiced. As the temperature at the patrol spot in winter is around minus 30 - 40 degrees Celsius, they often freeze into 'frozen men', even when fighting grass fires. They had gotten used to that and have never considered their physical conditions when working," Qi said.

The firefighters were hailed as the "most beautiful heroes" by Chinese netizens.