Oil City firefighters played a key role in river rescue

Oil City Fire Department personnel played a key role in Tuesday’s rescue of a woman in the Allegheny River.

Oil City firefighters and Oil City police responded to Colbert Avenue in Siverly at about 2 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a woman in the water screaming for help.

Fire chief Mark Hicks said firefighters threw her a rope bag, which she made no attempt to grab.

That’s when firefighter Noel Bartlett jumped into the frigid water and swam to her, which led to Bartlett being taken to UPMC Northwest along with the rescued woman.

“Firefighter Bartlett was transported to the hospital for hypothermia from being in the water,” Hicks said. “He actually swam out to her. By the time he got to shore, he was starting to feel the effects.”

Hicks said all the Oil City firefighters have water rescue training from the Fish and Boat Commission and that a rescuer entering the water is the last resort.

“The motto is reach, throw, row and go,” Hicks said.

Bartlett was treated and released and was able to return to work a couple of hours later.

The reason for the woman being in the water remains unknown.