MILLERSVILLE, Md. -- An off-duty career firefighter from the Prince Georges County Fire and EMS Department is being hailed as a hero today after assisting in the rescue of a drowning man in the early morning hours of Sunday February 1, 2009.
At approximately 1 a.m., Anne Arundel County firefighters were called to #48 South River Road in the Edgewater section of the County for a report of a man in the water. When crews arrived on location they found a 61 year old male victim who had apparently fallen into the frigid waters of the South River.
According to witnesses, the disabled man had fallen into the water after losing his balance. A bystander attempted to rescue the man by grabbing him and guiding him to a nearby piling. A second witness ran to a nearby restaurant and alerted patrons to the situation.
9-1-1 was called and the off-duty firefighter, identified as Rachel Edney, ran to the end of the pier. Observing that the man was unable to rescue himself, FF Edney jumped into the water.
Firefighter Edney was able to rescue the man by assisting him to the swim platform of a boat that was moored at the end of the pier. Other civilians then boarded the vessel and assisted the man onto the pier where he was cared for by firefighters and paramedics from the County Fire Department.
The victim was transported to the University Of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in critical condition for a near-drowning episode by paramedic ambulance.
The off-duty firefighter, who was not injured, returned to the restaurant and called friends to bring her dry clothing. She was evaluated by firefighters but did not require treatment or transport.
"This is an incredible success story," Fire Chief John Robert Ray said upon learning of the incident. "Rachel clearly risked her life to save the life of another person without any regard for her own safety. I have conveyed my sincere thanks to Chief Sedgwick of Prince Georges County and asked him to extend our appreciation for the actions of his firefighter. Personnel at the scene have conveyed that were it not for Rachel's actions, the outcome could have been dramatically and tragically different."
This is the first water rescue incident of 2009. Cold water immersion is an extremely serious emergency and civilians are cautioned against entering water or ice to save a victim. Civilians should call 9-1-1 promptly and maintain a visual sighting of the last known location of a victim but should never enter the water without appropriate personal protective equipment including PFD's, cold water exposure gear, and a retrieval line.