We all have things that frighten us, and we can’t always explain why. For instance, my youngest child finds cats simultaneously terrific and terror-inspiring depending on his mood.
Another kid never wants to enter a darkened room — despite the fact that a light switch always lies within easy reach. And for myself, I hate the idea of falling.
Never mind that I haven’t endured any particularly scary plunges and don’t ever find myself in any elevated places that lack a safety rail. High places can still give me vertigo.
Perhaps that’s why I enjoy hearing stories about first responders saving people from plunging to their deaths. Just consider a KNSD report about an air mattress that saved one jumper’s life.
In April 2017, a man jumped from an I-5 bridge in San Diego, California. But an inflatable air cushion ended up keeping him from death.
The cushion came into the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s hands at the request of firefighter Benjamin Vernon, who’d watched a jumper die in front of him after trying to save her life. “She landed at my feet, opened her eyes, spoke to me a few times and then she died,” Vernon said.
The event traumatized the first responder, so even after he got stabbed during a call, he had only one request to make while in a hospital emergency room: “I want to buy a rescue air cushion to save potential jumpers off bridges.”
In Devon, England, a paramedic took the plunge himself when security guards heard distressed cries coming from the waters near Torbay Pier in the middle of the night. South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust Operations Officer Darren Credland didn’t hesitate to jump into the pitch-black water to save the swimmer.
“It wasn’t a completely reckless act,” Credland told Devon Live. “I … have a long history of swimming, water polo, and worked as a lifeguard in my youth.”
Perhaps, but a paramedic in Cali, Colombia, recently encountered a situation that no training could’ve prepared him for. While driving over the Puente de los Mil Dias, Richard Parra encountered a man getting ready to leap to his death.
“As we got closer, we saw that he actually intended to jump,” Para told Storytrender. “He had already cut his veins before he stood on the bridge.”
Parra knew that any sudden movements would probably send the suicidal man quite literally over the edge. So he hatched a plan.
The man had climbed over the guardrail. He was standing on the lip of the bridge as Parra approached.
The paramedic knew that he needed to stay out of sight. So he slunk along beside a parked truck.
When the man’s attention was elsewhere, Parra surged forward and grabbed him around the chest. Heaving with all his might, he dragged him backward over the guardrail and safely onto the bridge.
“I am not saying that I improvised, but I followed my heart, which was telling me I had to do something to prevent this man from ending his life,” Parra said. “Fortunately, as paramedics, we are trained in rescuing people from suicide attempts.
“The man was hospitalized, and yesterday I had the chance to talk to him. He is being kept in before he can be transferred.”
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