Off-duty fire captain helps police rescue struggling swimmer

Capt. Thomas Johannessen was swimming for exercise when he saw the San Francisco Police Department Marine Unit trying to help a swimmer in distress

By FireRescue1 Staff

SAN FRANCISCO — An off-duty fire captain helped police save a struggling swimmer when he stumbled upon the scene while exercising.

SF Gate reported that San Francisco Fire Department Captain Thomas Johannessen was swimming when he saw the San Francisco Police Department Marine Unit attempting to help a distressed swimmer who was participating in the annual Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim, according to SFFD spokesman Lt. Jonathan Baxter.

Johannessen swam over to the scene and immediately began helping the crews guide the swimmer, who was unconscious, to safety.

Crews immediately began CPR after Johannessen and other responders pulled him onto a platform behind a police department boat. They were able to restart the swimmer’s heart when they arrived back on shore.

Lt. Baxter said responders “probably even saved this guy’s life. Once you go underwater into the bay, it’s super hard to locate and retrieve the victim.”

 “That’s what public servants do. Public servants take the job because they want to help,” Lt. Baxter said.


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