Responders form human chain to rescue swimmer in Cape May

 Image: Troy Perkins/U.S. Coast Guard Fire Department

Image: Troy Perkins/U.S. Coast Guard Fire Department

Numerous first responders formed a human chain in the ocean off Cape May late Friday afternoon to rescue a distressed swimmer, authorities say.

The Cape May Fire Department was dispatched to a water rescue at the Philadelphia Avenue beach around 5:45 p.m. and arrived within seconds since units were nearby and clearing from a hazardous material investigation, according to an agency release.

When firefighters arrived, they discovered that the three original victims made it to shore while the person who attempted to rescue them was in distress. That’s when two firefighter rescue swimmers entered the water.

Cape May Beach Patrol lifeguards, who were off-duty at the time, arrived shortly after and entered the water to form a human chain with the firefighters to rescue the victim. The firefighters, along with Cape May police officers, deployed a retrieval line to pull everyone in the water back to shore.

All four victims were transported to Cape Regional Medical Center for evaluation.

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“The tremendous effort of all those involved was absolutely breathtaking,” Mary Beth Hamilton McLoughlin wrote on the Facebook group Cool Cape May. “The save was one of the most impressive sights I have ever seen!”

How to identify a rip current: 

  • A channel of churning, choppy water.
  • An area having a notable difference in water color.
  • A line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward.
  • A break in the incoming wave pattern.

If caught in a rip current, NOAA advises:

Stay calm.

Don’t fight the current.

  • Escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an angle—away from the current—toward shore.
  • If you are unable to escape by swimming, float or tread water. When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, call or wave for help.

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