NEW YORK — Firefighter Randy Regan could honestly say he had a busy day before he even set foot in the firehouse to begin his shift on the morning of March 20.
The brave firefighter from Ladder 20 rescued a woman from the Hudson River on his bike ride to work.
"I’ve lived in New York my whole life and you see a lot of strange things," Firefighter Regan said. "It’s a little odd to see someone in the water, but this is New York."
The firefighter was biking from his Manhattan apartment to his firehouse in Soho at around 7:30 a.m., when he noticed two women on the sidewalk looking down into the water at around 79th Street. He then saw a woman (possibly in her 50s) floating on a log downstream.
He told the women to call 911, then climbed over a fence and down a rock wall to reach the water. He said he kept calling to the woman to see if she would come in, but she just kept looking away.
At that point, he said, "I knew I had to go for a swim."
He swam out about 30 to 40 feet in the 48 degree water, which was moving at about 2 knots at the time. He said he was not concerned about the swim — he spent many years as a lifeguard — but more so about the cold temperatures.
"Without the equipment, you do what you have to do," he said. "I had no choice, I had to get her."
He said she was very calm as he brought her in to shore, and several passersby helped him move her up the rock wall and over the fence. At that time, emergency crews had not yet responded, so ran down to the nearby Boat Basin and asked for a blanket.
He then returned to the woman and carried her down to an office there, removed her wet clothing and wrapped her in a blanket.
Soon after, EMS and police crews arrived. As EMS members prepared to transport her to St. Luke’s Hospital, police officers tried to interview Firefighter Regan. He gave them all the information he could, then left them with his firehouse phone number … because he had to get to work.
"I’ve been a firefighter for 20 years," he said. "This is what we do; we’re trained to rescue people no matter what the situation. It sounds silly but it’s just another day … maybe just a little different."
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