A 911 caller frantically told a dispatcher at the Wahkiakum County Police Department in Washington: “We were kayaking. … My friend went over, but she was able to pull herself up onto a piling.”
When Raedyn Grasseth overheard her fellow dispatcher taking that call from a woman who said her friend had fallen off her kayak and was in the Columbia River holding onto a wood pile, battling the current, she sprang into action. Grasseth, who has been a dispatcher for 15 years, called her mother. It might have been only time that eavesdropping was acceptable.
“I heard my partner taking the call. I was listening to him, overhearing what was going on and realized the area he was talking about I knew exactly where it was,” Grasseth told ABC affiliate KATU-TV in Portland, Ore. “It was basically right where most of my family was at that moment.”
Grasseth’s family was celebrating Easter Sunday at a relative’s home minutes away from where the woman was hanging on for dear life.
After Grasseth’s mother, Cynthia Faubion, received the call from her daughter asking if she could see where the woman was stranded, she decided to help, Wahkiakum County Undersheriff Steve Marshall told ABC News.
Faubion, who is a 30-year veteran of the county’s paramedic squad, got into a kayak and made it to the riverbank in seven minutes. Officials told ABC News it would have taken their response team 15 to 30 minutes to get to the river from their marina.
“It was very forceful water rushing through, strong currents. The water was 44 degrees,” Faubion told KATU.
Faubion’s husband rode along beside his wife in a motorized vehicle, and the two managed to pull the woman to safety.
“I kayaked out to make sure the person was OK and be sure, just in case she would slip and go back into the water,” Faubion said.
The rescued woman declined first aid and did not give her name, according to the sheriff’s office.
Of her daughter’s quick thinking, Faubion said, “Sometimes eavesdropping is good, especially when you’re going to save a life.”