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Firefighters Rescue Swimmer in Trouble

The swimmer, who attempted to swim to shore from a boat, is expected to recover

A man who tried to swim to shore from a boat tethered off Shoreline Drive was rescued Monday afternoon after he floundered about 200 yards offshore, an Alameda Fire Department spokesman said.

Three AFD water rescue swimmers reached the man shortly after 1 p.m. and brought him safely to shore on a water rescue board, AFD Capt. Jim Colburn said. The man, whose identity was not released, was taken by ambulance to Alameda Hospital, Colburn said. The swimmer is expected to recover.

The rescue brought out AFD water rescue teams equipped with a rescue boat, three rescue swimmers from the Alameda Police Department and a helicopter and two boats from the U.S. Coast Guard, Colburn said.

He said the rescue unfolded like this:

At 1:02 p.m. Monday, the AFD received a report of people in the water opposite the 1700 block of Shoreline Drive (at Grand Avenue), including one who was having trouble breathing.

Rescue swimmers reached the group and found one man in distress. Three others in the group were citizens who were trying to help, Colburn said. The man was briefly loaded onto the boat where he had been a passenger, checked by AFD swimmers and then brought to shore on a rescue board, which resembles a giant surfboard.

A woman passenger from the boat had also gone into the water and swam to shore on her own, according to a City of Alameda press release. She was also taken to Alameda Hospital.

Colburn said the AFD had seven rescue swimmers "suited up," with three going into the water and four stationed at water's edge. The three police rescue swimmers were also in the water, he said.

Colburn said this is the most recent of several rescues since the Alameda Fire Department reinstituted its water rescue program last year, following the drowning of a man on Memorial Day, 2011. That incident, where no AFD personnel entered the water to attempt a rescue, led to an independent investigation and a decision by the Alameda City Council to revive the program.

The first group of firefighters to be recertified as rescue swimmers after that incident completed their training in August 2011, and the AFD had two water rescue boats in operation by September 2011, Colburn said.

One rescue boat is housed at Fire Station #1 at 2401 Encinal Ave., the other at Frie Station #2 at 635 Pacific Ave., Colburn said.

SunFlowers May 08, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Hi Dixie, couple things here on this article...I still feel it appropriate to honor the "drowning of a man" by using his name, Raymond Zack. "Drowning of a man" dismisses him a bit and makes him seem like just another person. Considering we are coming up on a very sad anniversary, I would have loved to see his name given in the article. Also, "That incident, where no AFD personnel entered the water to attempt a rescue, led to an independent investigation and a decision by the Alameda City Council to revive the program." Reviving the water program wasn't prompted after the investigation. It was reinstated several weeks after the incident and the whole town in an uproar. It would be more accurate to say - "That incident, where no AFD personnel entered the water to attempt a rescue, led the Alameda City Council to revive the water rescue program and was followed by an independent investigation". I know this may be semantics, but this incident touched so many of us here in Alameda, received country wide attention and devastated the family that loves Raymond so much. Other than that, I can not express how grateful I am that our water rescue program is back up and running...as we've had at least 3 occasions since Raymond's death where it's been needed.
Jay comers May 08, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Ron Vanderheiden Thats the Only Name I have to say Every time I here about the fire fighters and Water rescue team!

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