VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A woman was drowning last week after being pulled 50 yards from shore by a strong rip current. Firefighters responded to the call and pulled the woman and four other people from the water.
Master Firefighter Chris Kahler said they got the call to the oceanfront around 18th street and they immediately saw five people in the water, in distress. One woman in particular was very far from shore and appeared tired from swimming.
After the fact, the firefighters found out the other people in the water had jumped in to help and had gotten caught in the rip themselves.
Kahler and another firefighter, Troy Prentice, jumped in the water. Prentice got to the group of the would-be rescuers and pulled them to safety. Kahler traveled to deeper water to save the woman who was now floating, trying to recover from her fight with the rip current.
Kahler told News 3, "She was tired and on her back when I approached her and I told her to grab onto the buoy and I towed her in."
The rest of Ladder 11 remained on the beach, surveying the rescue, ready to respond to the victims once they got pulled in.
Firefighters attribute the successful rescue to their constant training in the water and to the new techniques they are learning everyday related to surf and water emergency response.
Emergency personnel remind all beach-goers that the rip currents are still a danger in the fall months, even more so when hurricanes are moving along the coast. They advise people to stay out of the water during rough surf and periods of increased rip current activity.