All Myanmar Youths
He either has a lot of nerve — or no nerve endings.
A hero FDNY medic jumped into the freezing Hudson River Saturday afternoon to save a unstable man who escaped an area hospital and jumped into the arctic waters.
Paramedic Niall O’Shaughnessy and his partner Mingze Wu were driving up the West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan at 2:50 p.m. when they saw a group of police officers near the river’s edge at Harrison and West Sts.
When the pair pulled over, they found out a patient wandered out of Lower Manhattan hospital and tried to commit suicide in the Hudson.
“(The cops) had put down a life ring and was trying to pull him up but he was starting to slip off the life ring,” O’Shaughnessy said.
Despite the 24-degree temperature and the light snow falling, the daring life saver took off his equipment belt, grabbed a flotation device from his truck, gritted his teeth and jumped in after the man.
“I swam behind him and locked my arms around him to keep him secure,” O’Shaughnessy said in a lilting Irish brogue. “My partner and firefighters from Engine 10 began pulling us up.”
Then the cold set in, he said.
“Within about 30 seconds, I could definitely feel it in my arms and legs,” he recalled. “They weren’t really working. I couldn’t barely get my hand around the ladder they had sent down.”
The man he was rescuing was doing far worse.
“He was lethargic and definitely hypothermic,” O’Shaughnessy said. “He was having trouble forming words.”
Thanks to arriving NYPD and FDNY harbor boats, first responders were able to pull both the patient and O’Shaughnessy to safety.
The paramedic, an 11-year veteran of the FDNY, was taken to Lower Manhattan Hospital for a “warm up,” he said.
“I’m OK,” he added. “I’m doing good now.”
The man he saved was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
O’Shaughnessy shrugged off the save — but his EMS colleagues called him a “true hero.”
“It takes courage to do what Niall did today, placing his life on the line to save others,” said Oren Barzilay, president of EMS Local 2507. “He's a true product of FDNY EMS, the best EMTs and paramedics.”
This is not the first time O’Shaughnessy leaped into the Hudson to save a life.
In 2015, he hopped into the river after a suicidal woman near Pier 25 in Tribeca — but that was in July.
Saturday’s bone chilling experience hasn’t warmed O’Shaughnessy up to the idea of joining the Polar Bears in their annual New Year’s Day dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
“After today, that’s a definite no,” he said, laughing. “I knew the water was going to be cold, but I didn’t think it was going to be that cold.”