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Thursday February 9, 2012 - Firefighter's Helmet Camera Captures Dramatic Rescue

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Three children were saved from a fire in the East Bay and one had to be dropped from the second floor to escape the flames. The dramatic rescue was captured on a helmet camera worn by a firefighter. A mother lifted her child over a second-story railing and into the hands of a waiting firefighter.

The emergency call came just after 7 a.m. and because of new technology, the public gets a chance to see what it's like to be a first responder.

Frightened and panicked neighbors could be heard screaming, calling out for firefighters to save the children trapped inside a burning apartment in the Ashland area, just outside San Leandro.

As we slow down the video, you can see a woman handing a child off to firefighters waiting below, while flames and smoke nip at her heels.

"We had heavy fire showing from the first floor window, we had a confirmed rescue on the second floor," said Tom Pappas with the Alameda County Fire Department.

In the video, you can see a firefighter work his way through a thick curtain of smoke. It's Pappas -- a man with more than two decades of service under his belt and the only one on the team with a new tool being tested by the Alameda County Fire Department, a helmet cam.

"A lot of the family members weren't able to get out and we had neighbors and parents saying that there younger children were still trapped on the second floor," said Pappas.

In the video, you can see the firefighter go up the stairs of the apartment and enter the building. He first faces a thick, black plume of smoke. You can hear Pappas calling out to the children he later found scared and hiding in a closet. He and his team are using the camera, attached to his helmet, to review their procedures and provide the public with a first-person view of the dangers they face and how every second counts when it comes to saving lives.

"It was a very chaotic scene when we first arrived," said Pappas.