When they responded to a dispatcher's call that said only, "child down in street," Beverly Hills paramedics and firemen found no one at the scene.
But instead of giving up and returning to the station, they started asking questions in the neighborhood. Following up on a neighbor's tip that teen-agers had been cruising the area on motorcycles, they drove by Beverly Hills High School, where a Friday night dance was in progress.
They spoke to youngsters on the street, finally coming upon a group that acknowledged that a girl had had too much to drink, that she was taken away in a car and that she was sleeping it off in a garage.
"The kids didn't want to have anything to do with us," said paramedic David Grate. "They said they had taken care of her and that she was OK. We stressed the possible danger, but they were afraid that the cops and their parents would find out."
After more conversation, the victim's friends finally led the paramedics down a dark alley to an unlit garage, where the 15-year-old girl was found unconscious and not breathing.
They restored her breathing with an artificial respiration device and rushed her to the UCLA Medical Center, where her stomach was pumped, and she was released the next morning.
"She would have probably died in the next 5 to 10 minutes," said Dr. Larry J. Baraff, associate director of the hospital's emergency department. He said he was concerned about possible brain damage, "but apparently they got there just in time."
Baraff said the woman, whose name was not released, apparently drank a lot of vodka in a short time and suffered acute alcohol poisoning.
Although saving lives is routine for rescue squads, he said, "it was beyond the call of duty for them to go looking around all over the neighborhood to try to find her. It was a remarkable thing."
In recognition of their efforts in the Feb. 28 incident, the City Council last week awarded certificates of appreciation to the Fire Department and to Capt. Ron Savolskis, engineer Reynold Hicklin, firemen Bob Friel and Bob Trevett and paramedics Grate and Jim Doersam.
The Beverly Hills Fire Department answers more than 2,600 emergency medical calls a year, officials said.