Last night was a good night at work. We were just about to have dinner (I was dying for a good meal) when, of course, the bells sounded. "Jumper, Ben Franklin Bridge, everybody!" was the call. I'm thinking this is going to be nuts.
So, we respond to where we think we are supposed to be on the bridge itself. After some back and forth on the radio, one of the companies reports that they are at the base of the bridge with witnesses who report that someone did, in fact, jump off the observation platform. So we converge on the spot along the river. Now, I was filling in as the Chief last night. This is the first time I ever had a chance to run an operation like this. To say I was a little nervous is not too far off.
As we gathered information from the witnesses, they were adamant that they saw someone jump, (about 150 ft.) and hit the water with a splash. I worked my way out to the edge of the pier with some of the guys, where we had a pretty good vantage point, but all we could see was water. It was close to dusk so time was going to be a factor. I didn't want our people on this river after dark, for what was essentially beginning to look more and more like a body recovery. Surviving a fall from that height is highly unlikely. If you do manage not to be killed on impact with the water, odds are you will be unconscious and drown.
We had a lot of resources called in. Our Special Operations people with their water rescue equipment, our Marine Fireboat, the Police Marine Unit and the Coast Guard all joined in.
Just as things were starting to look grim, the Police start yelling that they spotted the person, alive, clinging to the bridge abutment! Are you KIDDING? was our total reaction. Since they couldn't get to her, they sped back over to the land, loaded up our divers and raced back to the bridge. In the meantime, the Fireboat came alongside and the firemen climbed out onto the abutment.
Our rescue divers went into the water and with help from the firemen above managed to float her back onto the police boat. They sped her right over to the landing where she was immediately placed into an ambulance and treated by Paramedics. She was in a Trauma Center within minutes of that. I think she is going to make it. Michael Moore wouldn't believe it. Days like this make me remember why I took this stupid job in the first place. I hope she finds peace, and stops jumping off bridges!