BOISE A man pulled from the New York Canal in Boise is recovering thanks to quick thinking from the men who protect and serve in the capital city.
It wouldn't be a huge leap to call officer Joe Rivas and firefighter Brent Matthews heroic, but it was the drama surrounding the rescue that created some scary moments.
Someone called police Monday afternoon, saying that there was a man, later identified only as Mr. Martinez, screaming for help and struggling to stay afloat in the New York Canal.
"I thought, 'I'm close, I'm only two minutes away, maybe I can help,'" said Senior Boise Police Officer Joe Rivas.
Rivas was at the Boise Airport and was first on scene. Rather than going to Broadway Avenue, where the man was last seen, he went to Vista Avenue, only to see that a gate blocked his patrol car from going any further.
"The only alternative I had was to run that half mile to three quarter mile to try and meet Mr. Martinez in the canal," said Rivas.
Rivas took with him a Frisbee-like rescue disc that has a rope attached. He spotted the Martinez in the water, but the man was no longer calling for help.
"He was about 4 to 6 inches underwater, facedown and not responsive," said Rivas. "I was alone, I was limited in my equipment, and I made the decision just to follow the body floating in the canal."
Brent Matthews was the first firefighter to the scene. By this time, Martinez had been under the water for five to six minutes.
With his life preserver on, Matthews jumped into the water, something he called a last resort.
"Once I dove down and could get ahold of his shirt a little bit, I used my legs to lift him up and kind of used my legs to lift him into my arms," said Matthews.
Matthews had taken a rescue disc with him into the water, with Rivas holding the other end.
"As soon as Brent got a hold of Mr. Martinez, the line snapped on us due to the tension," said Rivas. "It was pretty heart-wrenching seeing a firefighter floating away and nothing I could do about it."
Matthews didn't panic.
"I was able to fall back on my training and know that sooner or later my crew would get me out," said Matthews.
Luckily, Ada County Paramedics showed up with a throw bag and rope. Rivas used that to eventually pull the two men out. But Martinez was in bad shape.
"He's unconscious, not breathing, no pulse," said Matthews. "I had just recently read a few articles on the effectiveness of performing the Heimlich maneuver on drowning victims before starting CPR."
The Heimlich maneuver proved effective: Matthews was able to get a lot of water and sand out of the man's lungs before they started CPR, which lasted for 25 minutes.
"By the time we loaded him into the ambulance, I believe that we had a pulse back," said Matthews.
Before he got to the hospital Martinez was breathing on his own.
"He's pretty lucky, 5 to 6 minutes without air is a long time to go," said Matthews.
The men said they don't consider themselves to be heroes.
It's just part of our job, said Rivas. The feeling is just incredible. It makes our job worth it.
There's over 250 Boise firefighters that would have done the same thing, said Matthews.
The water in the canal was very cold, which helped crews revive Martinez.. The chilly water slows the body, making it less dependent on oxygen and giving rescuers more time.
Martinez is not out of the woods just yet. He's still recovering at the hospital and being closely monitored.
Police still don't know how Martinez got into the water. We're told he is a transient but does have some family in the area.