By Lt. Jack Huey, AA/PIO
Folsom State Prison
A quiet summer Saturday found an off-duty registered nurse pulling someone from a swift-moving river.
On June 17, David Toman, a Supervising Registered Nurse II at Folsom State Prison (FSP), was spending time with his family and their dog, enjoying the Bridgeport South Yuba River State Park in Penn Valley.
The high river flows caused by Sierra snow melt had made swimming in the river extremely hazardous and that day the water conditions were swift, cold, and higher than normal. Toman was standing in the middle of the river in about waist deep water with his dog when he heard somebody yell “help” next to some boulders from which kids were jumping into the river.
Toman then saw something floating down the middle of the river, which turned out to be a man who yelled for help. The man yelled out again and then started to disappear under the water.
Toman dropped the dog leash and swam toward the man, who now was face down and about 2 feet under the water that was swiftly whisking him down the river. He reached the man when a second rescuer came to assist. The second rescuer started pulling the drowning victim with his face still down in the water. Toman quickly stopped this action, flipped the victim on his back, and they started toward the shoreline. The swift current began pulling all three of them farther down river.
The second rescuer abruptly stopped assisting and swam to the shoreline, leaving Toman to continue trying to get the man to shore.
When Toman was able to touch the riverbed, he pulled the victim to the shoreline. He quickly assessed the victim. The victim was breathing, but non-responsive.
About 30 seconds later, the victim coughed up water and sputum, becoming responsive. The victim was extremely fatigued.
Toman remained with the victim. After about 10 minutes passed, the victim said he felt better and his friends arrived. Toman learned the victim and his friends had been consuming alcohol all day and were jumping off the rocks farther upstream from where the children were jumping. The victim is not a strong swimmer.
The friends realized that the victim was missing and started to look for him not thinking that he was in any distress in the river.
The man and his friends thanked Toman several times and went back to their areas of the river.
When Toman and his family were leaving for the day, they met the young man and his girlfriend on the trail and the man’s girlfriend hugged Toman, thanking him for saving the victim’s life.
Had it not been for Toman’s alertness, nursing skills and bravery, this young man would have surely died that day.
“I feel that this is just what we do in our profession,” said Toman. “If you were there, you would have done the same thing.”