WATCH: Firefighter sneaks up behind to save potential bridge jumper

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St. Paul District Fire Chief Conrad Ertz became a firefighter to help save lives, but few calls are as memorable as Tuesday afternoon's to the Robert Street Bridge.

Someone walking on the bridge called 911 as a woman sat on the concrete barrier overlooking the Mississippi River 120 feet below, hoping that authorities would make it there in time to stop her from jumping. 

At first, two police officers attempted to talk the woman off the ledge, hoping to talk with her about what was going through. 

"She said she didn't feel like anyone loved her," officer Shawn Longen said. "I assured here there were people who loved her and if they were there they would be doing everything they could to get her to come to the other side of the railing--which is what i wanted her to do--to come over and talk to us about what was going on."

As this was happening, the district Chief arrived without being noticed. Cell phone video shows what happened next as Ertz tiptoes his way closer, grabbing the woman and pulling her to safety. After an initial struggle the woman eventually calmed down and broke into tears, Ertz said.

St. Paul has recently ramped up its training to handle people in crisis, something both officers claim is paying off in big ways.

"What was going through my mind was I wanted this to end in a positive light so this individual had a second chance," Ertz said. "I did not want this to end like I've seen before."


If you do have thoughts of suicide, help is available:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255. The hotline has trained staff available 24/7 to help those in crisis.

Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide by being aware of the warning signs of suicidal behaviors:

  • Talking about wanting to die; feeling hopeless, trapped, or in unbearable pain, being a burden to others
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

What you can do

If you believe someone is at risk of suicide:

  • Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. (This will not put the idea into their heads, or make it more likely that they will attempt suicide.)
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
  • Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • If possible, do not leave the person alone.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Alliance for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Suicide Prevention Resource Center