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Seattle Fire’s on-duty rescue swimmers save man’s life

Seattle Fire Department’s Rescue Swimmer Program proved again to be successful after a water rescue response on July 10 at the downtown waterfront.

SEATTLE – In the early morning hours on July 10, the Seattle Fire Alarm Center received a call reporting a person in distress in the water along Seattle’s waterfront on Alaskan Way. Firefighters from Station 2 in Belltown arrived first on scene and quickly identified and marked the location of the adult male who was still above water struggling. Engine 2 threw a red rescue can to the patient, which allows a person to grab on and be towed in, but he unfortunately was not listening or hearing verbal commands. In the meantime, two rescue swimmers geared up in their protective equipment and immediately swam out to him in the water. They conducted a surface water rescue and were able to secure the patient before he went under. Simultaneously, the fireboat had deployed from Station 5 and met the rescue swimmers in the water, pulling the patient onto the boat to begin medical treatment. The adult male patient was transported in stable condition via paramedics to Harborview hospital, and is expected to make a full recovery.

Watch City Stream to learn more about the Rescue Swimmer Program.

Without the department’s rescue swimmer capability, the outcome of this response would have likely been very different. Launched in July of 2017, this program allows fire personnel to enter the water more rapidly to conduct surface water rescues in all areas of Seattle on a 24-hour basis. When the program initially launched, all of the department’s rescue swimmers completed a rigorous training program held by West Pierce Fire and Rescue in Pierce County and participated in department-specific curriculum. On any given day, approximately 9-10 rescue swimmers are on-duty in the City. This program builds on SFD’s other water rescue programs including the Fireboats and also the technical dive team which responds out of Station 14 in SODO.

Media interested in interviewing a SFD representative about this response and the program can contact Seattle Fire Department’s public information officer at