A Facebook video is proof that first responders are often the last line of defense for people when they feel they’re at the end of the line.
St. Paul District Fire Chief Conrad Ertz, the subject of Facebook user Matthew Seaton’s video post, tells ABC 5 News saving a distraught woman contemplating suicide is an event that’s impossible to forget.
In the video, Ertz is seen approaching the woman Tuesday on the Robert Street Bridge — high above the Mississippi River.
As she leans against the railing on the edge of the bridge, and with two police officers out of frame, Ertz slowly approaches the woman — quickly grabs her — as the two officers rush to secure the two on the sidewalk.
“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,’ Ertz tells ABC 5 News. “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 — we grabbed onto her — and we pulled her over to safety,” he said.
Ertz tells ABC 5 News 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,” Ertz 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.’”
People commenting on Seaton’s video post give kudos to Ertz and the two officers.
“Job well done to the St. Paul fire department and the St. Paul Police Department — support the blue line,” said Scott Cooper.
Another commenter agrees.
“Hats off to these heroes — nice job,” said Todd Jones.
ABC News 5 reminds viewers suicide numbers are increasing, but it’s a problem that can be solved.
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 six 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.
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