Water rescue shows why the Rochester Fire Department’s water rescue team is a vital part of city

Local News

The Rochester Fire Department rescued a woman who had jumped from the Ford Street bridge Saturday night. The RFD’s water rescue team was able to get her out quickly and safely without any casualties.

With only a rope connecting him to shore, Jason Wharity says it was second nature for him to jump into the 49-degree water of the Genesee River, swimming to the middle of the river to make the rescue.

“I just swam out. I have a dry suit that I wear, and then I just put on a set of flippers to combat the current out there so I swam the boogie board out to her,” said Jason Wharity, rescue company 11 Rochester Fire Department. 

The Rochester Fire Department answers to 15 to 20 water rescue missions a year. High-grade equipment helps them to complete the job swiftly and safely.

“We’re lucky in the Rochester Fire Department that we have a lot of very good equipment and we have a big dedication to training,” said Wharity. 

The department says calls have been increasing and they take hundreds of calls every year for water recovery and rescue missions.

“This is the second time in four months that we seen somebody jump….The calls have picked up but this one was pretty serious,” said David Bagley, lieutenant RFD.

Water temperature in the Genesee River can be anywhere from 20 to 42 degrees. Rescuers say it only takes 1-2 minutes for someone to feel the effects of the cold water.    

“The water temperature this time of year is cold. So you know time is of the essence I believe she was in the water for 18 mins….. But we got her out real quick and saved her life,” said Bagley.

24 water rescue team members were on site to assist with the rescue. The fire department says rescues like this show why the water rescue team is a vital resource for the city in keeping the public safe.

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