Dispatchers were on the phone with the kids for more than 30 minutes as they tried to determine exactly where they were located, according to FDNY Chief John Hodgens
Five children were rescued from a Staten Island sewer on Tuesday after wandering into a drainage tunnel.
FDNY officials said the boys, who ranged in age between 11 and 12, entered the sewer system near Martling Avenue and Clove Road before getting lost about a quarter of a mile in, according to CW affiliate WPIX.
After about 15 minutes, the boys became "disoriented" and called for help around 6 p.m., New York Fire Department Chief John Hodgens said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Dispatchers were on the phone with the kids for more than 30 minutes as they tried to determine exactly where they were located, Hodgens said.
In 911 audio released by FDNY, a dispatcher can be heard walking one of the kids through a series of questions.
"How long did you walk for?" the dispatcher asks in the clip, to which the caller responds, "We walked a lot."
12-year-old Kevin Reyes told WPIX that one of his friends ventured into the tunnel and got stuck, leading him and three other friends to enter as well.
"We were scared that we would not get out because our legs were numb," he told the outlet, describing the tunnel as "dark" and "really tight."
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Dispatchers Moises Arias and Marlind Haxhialiu worked with the children as they attempted to pinpoint their location for first responders, according to the FDNY.
Haxhialiu is familiar with the area, and used that knowledge "to determine where they had entered" the sewer and relay it to rescuers at the scene.
Lieutenant John Drew said rescuers found the boys' jackets and school bags near a tunnel with a 40-inch opening, which is where they believe the boys entered the sewer system, per the FDNY Rescuers then began opening up manhole covers along the line.
Ladder 79 firefighter John Loennecker said he could "hear them clearly" after opening the last drain Clove Road.
In the 911 audio, one of the dispatchers can be heard telling the boys that rescuers could hear them, and encouraged them to "call for help."
FDNY officials believe the children were stuck in the tunnel for about an hour, Hodgens told reporters on Wednesday.
EMS Chief Luis Basso said the kids were transported to Richmond University Medical Center, as was a firefighter who was injured during the rescue efforts.
One of the children sustained a "minor" injury during the ordeal, per the FDNY.
Speaking at the press conference, Hodgens went on to applaud the "successful operation" and its "happy outcome."
"It was a little bit challenging," the chief said, "but FDNY dispatchers did a great job of continuing to communicate and try to pinpoint exactly where they were."
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