Fire dept. boat crew saves drowning woman during training exercise

The Syracuse Fire Department was heading back to the marina after docking practice when they saw a woman floating in the water

By FireRescue1 Staff

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A fire department boat crew saved a drowning woman after stumbling upon her during a training exercise. reported that Syracuse Fire Department firefighters Jake Burns, Matt Scheirer and Lt. Paul Schappwas were heading back to the marina after practicing docking the boat when they spotted a woman floating in the water.

"I think it's a body," Burns said as they got closer.

The firefighters saw the woman floating with her arms out and feet in front of her, and Burns said at first  it seemed like she was simply relaxing.

"Are you okay?" Burns asked.

"'I need help. Help me somebody," the woman responded, before beginning to sink into the water.

Burns jumped into the water, which was more than six feet deep.

"I grabbed her and started to pull her toward shore," he said.

With Schaap driving the boat, Scheirer jumped in the water to help Burns, and together they strapped the woman to a backboard before lifting her into a floating basket.

Fire Chief Michael Monds said in early reports about the incident that the woman, who told the crew she could not feel anything below her chest, had jumped from a bridge.

Burns said they had happened upon the spot at the perfect time, because if they had gotten there 10 minutes later, the woman might not have made it, and if they had arrived 10 minutes earlier, they probably would have missed her.

"It was the definition of being in the right place at the right time," Scheier said.

The incident was the first time the boat had been used to rescue someone.

"It was surreal," Burns said.


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