Thursday, September 18, 2008

To the Rescue

“Prepare for docking.” Those three words were music to my clogged ears. Because of a cold accompanied by flu-like symptoms I found myself on the 11:30 a.m. Sen. John J. Marchi ferry boat leaving Manhattan for Staten Island (and my bed) on Tuesday. With the dock in sight, I rose from my seat and joined my fellow midday riders at the front of the boat. Looking out the window with dreams of my cold-remedy-filled medicine cabinet dancing through my head I noticed something odd. Was the boat going in reverse or was my mind playing tricks on me? When the ferry started turning in a circle I knew it was no least not one I found amusing.

Within seconds a voice came over the public address system informing us that the ferry was being delayed. A mile from the close yet so far. Before long chatter arose about a woman in the water. Coast guard boats and an NYPD helicopter converged on the area. Did the woman jump from the ferry? Was she pushed? Is she OK? So many questions swirled among the passengers. Less than ten minutes later (eight, to be exact), the voice from above came over the public address system to let us know the ferry was involved in a successful rescue operation. Applause rose from the crowd and we continued on our way to the Staten Island ferry terminal in St. George.

Later that day the rescue mission was recounted on the five o’clock news. It goes like this: As the Sen. John J. Marchi ferry boat was a mile from the Staten Island terminal the captain, through his binoculars, spotted a woman in the water. He immediately alerted authorities and dispatched two deckhands in a ferry rescue craft. The two deckhands reached the woman, pulled her into their boat—as she gasped for air—and brought her to land. Emergency officials met the rescue craft at the ferry terminal and transported the woman to a local hospital. Surveillance cameras later revealed the woman jumped into the New York Harbor from a Staten Island pier as the ferry was closing in on shore. The eagle eyes of the captain and the quick response of the ferry employees saved this woman’s life.

According to the two deckhands, ferry employees practice rescue drills once a week. And practice makes perfect...eight minutes perfect.

Photo courtesy of New York City Department of Transportation Web site.

No comments: