FDNY paramedic dives into frozen river to save man

Niall O’Shaughnessy jumped into the Hudson River after realizing the man could not hold the life preserver lowered by police

By FireRescue1 Staff

NEW YORK — A paramedic saved a man’s life by jumping into a freezing river to rescue him.

NY Post reported that veteran FDNY paramedic Niall O’Shaughnessy was working on the highway when he saw the NYPD at the Hudson River and ran over to see if they needed help.

“I grabbed my personal flotation device and ran over to where the NYPD was,” O’Shaughnessy said.

O’Shaughnessy realized the man in the river was too helpless to hold on to the life preserver that the NYPD had lowered, so he kicked off his boots and removed his radio before jumping into the water.

“I used my body to pull him around the life ring,” O’Shaughnessy said. “The first two seconds in, I felt the cold set in. After about 30 seconds to a minute I could definitely feel that my arms and legs weren’t working.

O’Shaughnessy added that the victim was losing consciousness.

“He was definitely lethargic,” O’Shaughnessy said. “He was definitely hypothermic. He had difficulty speaking and holding onto the ring. I was behind him holding onto him on the life ring.”

Firefighters lowered a ladder into the water and lifted O’Shaughnessy and the victim back onto land.

The victim was transported to the hospital in stable condition, where O’Shaughnessy was briefly evaluated as well. Despite the brave incident, O’Shaughnessy doesn’t consider himself a hero.

“I was just a civilian today,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I was a rescuer. He just needed a little help.”


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