May 18, 2011
At approximately 3:30 pm, Firefighter/Paramedic Nicholas Weichal and Firefighter Russ Beguelin from Portland Fire & Rescue's Station 21 had just walked out onto the back deck of the station when they noticed a woman struggling in the Willamette River below.
The firefighters immediately responded by running down the boat ramp towards the river and boarded the Eldon Trinity Rescue Boat. From the rescue boat, the firefighters used a pike pole (a long pole with a hook on the end) to grab onto the woman's coat and pull her from the frigid water.
The woman, who is in her 80's, was reportedly alone on the dock and somehow fell into the water. Firefighters suspect that heavy boat traffic and resulting wakes caused the dock to shift and the woman to fall into the water. The Willamette River is extremely cold at this time of year, and the woman was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.
According to Firefighter Nicholas Weichal, "It was just being at the right place at the right time. If we hadn't walked out onto the deck when we did, she would have drowned."
Station 21, located at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge next to the Willamette River, is strategically located to respond to all types of water emergencies on the Willamette. The addition of the Eldon Trinity Rescue Boat at the station in December 2010 has enabled Portland Fire & Rescue to more quickly respond to water-related emergencies and save lives.
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
May 18, 2011
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