HEROES: Man Rescued From Base Of Great Falls In Paterson

PHOTOS: City firefighters rescued a man from the base of the Great Falls in Paterson shortly after midnight Sunday.

City firefighters head toward the man at the base of the Great Falls in Paterson.
City firefighters head toward the man at the base of the Great Falls in Paterson. Photo Credit: Jon Ryan for DAILY VOICE

The rescuers used a tethered raft to row their way to the 32-year-old man, who was sitting on on the rocky island near the hydroelectric plant off McBride Avenue at Overlook Park's Lower Pavillion, city Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.

He claimed he'd jumped from the footbridge above the falls, but that's a drop of more than seven stories.

"There were no witnesses to confirm it," Speziale said.

"The city recently reinvested in rescue operations with the purchase of all new rescue rope and hardware," Fire Chief Brian McDermott said. "This was quickly put to use on this night to save a life."

Here's what they did, according to Speziale:

"Members of Ladder 2 forced entry to the catwalk at the base of the hydroelectric plant," Speziale explained. "Capt. Mike Scherer donned swift water personal protection equipment and entered the cat walk. All the members assigned assembled the boat, rope and rigging gear.

"Members of Engine 4 set up downstream back-up with inflatable hose at the Alfano Bridge. A roof ladder was quick rigged to the catwalk to use for accessing the water since there was no access. "The boat was lowered via a rope and pulley system built by Rescue 2 into the water where two members of Rescue 2 accessed the rescue boat. Using a pre-rigged safety line on a spool attached to the boat, they navigated the swollen post-rain Great Falls and reached the victim.

"They medically assessed the male victim, placed a life jacket and rope harness on him and brought the victim back to the catwalk, where his ascent was controlled by a rope and pulley system. 

An ambulance took the man to St. Joseph's University Medical Center.

The extent of his injuries couldn't immediately be determined. However, Speziale said Sunday morning that his condition was stable.

"Our technical rescue expertise was on display," the director said. "I’m proud of the professionalism and bravery we demonstrated in this life-saving team effort."

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