VBFD Rescues Two Swimmers at the Oceanfront

Thursday, October 04, 2018

​Local forecasters have been warning people about dangerous rip currents at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront this week and this morning, two swimmers nearly lost their lives while swimming in the ocean. At 10:46 this morning, a woman called 911 to report two swimmers in distress off the beach at 35th street. Engine 11 responded to the call for help. Upon arrival, VBFD firefighter, Wes Arendt, swam out to the man and woman about 50-yards off the shore.

When Arendt reached the couple, a surfer in the water had already placed the woman on his surfboard while her husband was clinging to the rear of the board.  Arendt, along with the surfer, attempted to bring the couple to shore, but the husband lost his grip on the board. Both swimmers were tired and having difficulty breathing.  Firefighter Arendt gave his rescue float to the husband and instructed him to hold on while he brought the man's wife to shore with the surfboard. 

Arendt returned for the man and was able to get him safely to shore. The woman was transported to a local hospital after complaining of respiratory difficulties.  Both are expected to be alright. 

Arendt is one of 63 Virginia Beach Firefighters certified as a rescue swimmer.  The program started by Battalion Chief Joshua Goyet has been training firefighters to be certified rescue swimmers since spring of 2016. The program continues to grow and is credited with saving a number of lives both at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront resort area and Sandbridge.

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Photo: Firefighters Tyler Boyd and Wes Arendt and Captain Michael Newsome from Engine 11.

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