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NYPD ESU rescue man threatening to jump off RFK bridge

By Brendan Walsh and Chris Clarke
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ESU talked down a distressed man from the RFK Triborough bridge yesterday afternoon. The unit responds to thousands of calls each year involving people in crisis situations. PHOTO: CHRIS CLARKE.
ESU talked down a distressed man from the RFK Triborough bridge yesterday afternoon. The unit responds to thousands of calls each year involving people in crisis situations. PHOTO: CHRIS CLARKE.

Randalls Island- Yesterday, police rescued a man who had climbed up on the Robert F. Kennedy-Triborough Bridge and was reportedly threatening to jump, according to officials.

Police received a call for a man on the bridge at approximately 2:30 p.m.— this prompted officers from the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit— a part of the department that handles special rescues, as well as emotionally distressed individuals—to respond to the scene.

Upon arrival, ESU personnel put on climbing harnesses and other safety equipment, before making their way up the bridge— officers stopped just below the man to give him space while they talked with him.

ESU talked down a distressed man from the RFK Triborough bridge yesterday afternoon. The unit responds to thousands of calls each year involving people in crisis situations. PHOTO: CHRIS CLARKE.
ESU talked down a distressed man from the RFK Triborough bridge yesterday afternoon. The unit responds to thousands of calls each year involving people in crisis situations. PHOTO: CHRIS CLARKE.

Less than an hour after it began, the incident came to a dramatic end.  After pacing back and forth on a ledge of the bridge, the man lay down and moments later, an ESU member rushed across a short catwalk and quickly grabbed him, pulling the man to safety.

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The distressed man being brought down to street level in a special stretcher. PHOTO: NYPD 25TH PCT.

After he was restrained by ESU members, the distressed man was placed in a special stretcher that allowed ESU personnel to lower him to the roadway using a system of ropes.

The man was later transported by EMS to a nearby hospital to be evaluated.

Last year, NYPD patrol officers began being trained in the “Talk to Me” protocol, already used by ESU and NYPD’s Hostage Negotiation Teams (HNT) to “build rapport, demonstrate empathy and encourage active listening,” when interacting with someone in a crisis situation, according to the NYPD.

Screen capture of police helicopter video shows an ESU with the distressed man on the RFK Triborough bridge yesterday afternoon. PHOTO: NYPD SOD.
Screen capture of police helicopter video shows an ESU member with the distressed man on the RFK Triborough bridge yesterday afternoon. PHOTO: NYPD.

ESU and HNT members respond to thousands of incidents each year involving people in crisis situations— everything from people threatening to jump, to individuals barricaded inside their residence, according to the NYPD.

You can learn more about the techniques used by the police department, mental illness, and ways to prevent suicide by following the NYPD run twitter account @TalkToMe.