Off-duty Cape Girardeau firefighter helps rescue a man at the Current River

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A Cape Girardeau firefighter's recent float trip with his kids turned into a rescue mission.

According to a post on the Cape Girardeau Fire Department's Facebook page, Master Firefighter Chris Venable was on the Current River with his two sons around 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 15.

He pulled over a the Gravel Bar north of Van Buren to eat lunch with his sons. That's when he saw some people jumping off a cliff into the water and one man scaling up the cliff nearby.

"He'd been scaling it for a while and we weren't even paying attention the whole time and if he got to the top until we saw him fall," Venable said.

He said when the man fell he knew someone was very wrong.

"When he entered the water it wasn't a controlled fall. That last rock he hit very hard and cartwheeled in the water. He did surface and he had a hold of his ribs. From what I saw, he hit his ribs on the way down."

Venable said the man was yelling and in pain. So, Venable's sons gave him flotation devices and he swam across to get the man. He and another bystander worked together to get the man to safety.

"He wasn't really responding to our questions because he was in so much main. My concern was he had a punctured lung because I did hear him say, he did say something about having trouble to breath."

Venable thanks his training for being able to think quickly on what to do and using his training to know how the best way to cross the river and secure the victim to save him.

A man with the Kennett Fire Department, who was also off-duty, called 911. An off-duty nurse applied pressure to the man's ribs so he could breathe until EMS arrived.

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