Fire Dept. Captain rescues drowning man on Africa trip
By Chris Schlueter
A man in Africa was rescued in January by ‘one of Girdwood’s finest’. Captain Ryan Schlueter of the Girdwood fire department applied his water rescue and emergency medical skills acquired in Girdwood when a man fell into the harbor and was unable to swim. It was later discovered that the man was attempting to commit suicide.
Ryan was with his family at a popular waterfront restaurant on vacation in Capetown, South Africa when a man jumped or fell from a pier in to the harbor. The man flailed in the water for a moment and then went motionless as he floated in his clothes.
Persons above called to him and threw a life ring, but the man remained motionless and did not reach for the ring.
In a short while, the man began to submerge. Captain Schlueter heard the commotion and recognizing the imminent danger, stripped to his shorts and jumped in to the harbor.
He swam close, confirmed that the victim would not panic or pose a safety risk, took the man in a rescue hold, swam him to the life ring and over to a nearby dock.
The man was hoisted to the dock at which point Ryan checked his vitals before the recovering victim was taken in to the safety of local authorities for further care. Spontaneous applause erupted from the large crowd of on-lookers who had gathered. As Ryan walked back across a footbridge to his seat at the restaurant, he was greeted appreciatively by the patrons for his initiative, bravery and skill.