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Marine Police Pull Wheelchair-Bound Woman from Lake

Marine Police Pull Wheelchair-Bound Woman from Lake

Chicago Tribune via Yellowbrix

April 10, 2011

CHICAGO – Two Chicago Police Marine Unit officers had just finished a drill on treating near-drowning victims when they were summoned to a downtown harbor to save the life of a woman who had stopped breathing after falling into the water.

The woman, 60, fell in the water about 9:40 p.m. Friday after a man, 59, who had been pushing her in a wheelchair on a ramp apparently stumbled and fell in himself. The two were leaving an event at the nearby Columbia Yacht Club, when they fell into the harbor at 111 N. Lake Shore Drive, according to police.

They were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment and were expected to recover, officials said today.

Officers Kevin Hitney, who works the overnight shift, and Kurt Kaner, who works the evening shift, had just participated in the drill at Marine Unit Headquarters, a quarter-mile north of the Yacht Club, when a call came in saying two people had fallen in the water.

Hitney and Kaner rushed to the south end of the harbor and found the man clinging to part of the dock, yelling for help as another man lay on the dock, trying to keep the woman from becoming entirely submerged, Hitney said today.

Hitney jumped into the water to try to save the woman, as Kaner lifted the man up out of the water and put him on the dock.

Hitney lifted the woman’s head out of the water, and Kaner then grabbed her and pulled her onto the dock with the help of Fire Department rescuers who had come on the scene.

The Marine officers started doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the woman, who wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, Hitney said. A Marine Unit boat, which had the equipment that had been used in the drill minutes later, arrived.

After doing CPR, using a defibrillator to start her heart again and using wha’’s known as an ambu bag to get her breathing by forcing air into her lungs, the officers turned over the two victims to Fire Department paramedics, who brought them to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The woman initially was listed in critical condition there, but the man was quickly stabilized. Both are expected to survive, police said today.

Marine unit divers were able to find the woman’s wheelchair in the harbor, and about an hour after saving the two people, Hitney and Kaner went to Northwestern to refill supplies that had been used in the rescues. While there, they were told by a nurse that the woman was already conscious.

The whole rescue, from the time the Marine Unit first got the call to when both people were out of the water, took about three minutes, Hitney said. But for the coincidence of having the drill Friday night, however, Hitney and Kaner, a 17-year police veteran, might not have been so close.

“We were just packing up from our drill when this call came in, and we literally used everything we did 10 minutes prior to this run, on this victim, and subsequently saved her life, I believe,” said Hitney, a 19-year police veteran who has been with the marine unit 11 years.


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