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PORTLAND A crew doing maintenance on a water rescue boat along the Eastbank Esplanade was in the right place at the right time when a man started yelling for help Wednesday.

The crew of Portland Fire Station 21 was performing maintenance on the Eldon Trinity rescue boat when they heard someone yelling for help from the top of the Hawthorne Bridge and pointing toward the water below.

Then, the firefighters spotted a man struggling in the water and quickly getting swept downriver in the fast current.

The crew immediately started the engines and untied the boat from the dock. By the time they maneuvered the boat away from the dock, the man had moved about 200 yards down river, said Paul Corah, a spokesman for the Portland Fire Bureau. Within a minute or two, crews were next to the man in the river yelling for help.

Then, firefighters reached into the water and slid the man on board.

In water rescues, people often have traumatic injuries to their limbs, back, and neck. The ability to ease patients into the boat without further exacerbating their injuries is essential, Corah said.

The 45-year-old man was treated by paramedics and transported to a nearby hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. His name was not released.

This is one of the fastest water rescues I have ever seen, said Portland Fire Battalion Chief Tom Williams. Firefighters who were in the right place at the right time were able to mobilize their resources and rescue this man in minutes.

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