August 08, 2017 11:02 PM
A passerby captured the moment a St. Paul firefighter and two St. Paul police officers rescued a woman standing on the edge of a bridge on Tuesday.
District Fire Chief Conrad Ertz pulled the woman off the ledge. He told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS helping people in their times of need is just part of the job. But he said Tuesday's incident will be impossible to forget.
The encounter happened on the Robert Street bridge, high above the Mississippi River. The video – shot by a passerby – shows Ertz approaching the woman as she leans against the railing on the edge of the bridge.
Two police officers are out of frame in the video. Ertz said both had tried to talk with the woman and bring her to the other side of the railing.
Ertz slowly approaches the woman, then quickly grabs her, holding on tight as the two officers rush to secure her on the sidewalk.
Ertz is a veteran of the St. Paul Fire Department, but admitted to being scared in these moments. He said he simply remembered his training for these delicate situations.
Ertz told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS what was going through his mind.
"As I approached I was making contact with the officers, talking with them, not verbally, just with hand signals and saying, 'I'm here, I think we should do this.' As I got closer, I was able to see that this was starting to deteriorate further and as I got right up alongside her, I signaled we're doing this and they reacted just like I did. They grabbed onto me and we grabbed onto her and we pulled her over to safety," Ertz said.
Ertz said it was an intense encounter for everyone involved.
"You could feel the emotions out of both officers talking with her, saying that she had something to live for," he said. "What was going through my mind is, I just wanted this to end in a positive light so that this individual had a chance, another chance, and I did not want to have this end like I've seen before."
Unfortunately, many people don't get another chance.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, suicide is a surging problem in the state. In 2015 alone, there were 726 reported suicides in Minnesota, a 6 percent increase from 2014.
There are a number of suicide warning signs, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They include talking about wanting to die, feelings of hopelessness and unusual sleeping habits.
Anyone in need of mental health help can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK
Created: August 08, 2017 11:02 PM
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