RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A standard medical call to the Richmond Fire Department Sunday afternoon, turned into a boat ride when firefighters learned the patient was located in a tricky location with limited accessibility.

Richmond Fire Departments Battalion Chief Robert Maass said in circumstances like these, the team has to be ready to act fast, pivoting response strategies as needed.

“They knew it had potential to be difficult due to terrain and access,” Maass said.

Sunday’s call required a team of about 12 men with the Richmond Fire Department to break out the water rescue gear and team up with Richmond Ambulance Authority to make the rescue happen. Maass describes how the department realized this was no longer a standard medical call response and had a ‘Plan A’ and a ‘Plan B’ ready.

“The biggest thing is navigating the river, because the river is very dynamic,” Maass said. “The current, the rapids, the obstacles…”

A rescue mission is a race against time, as emergency responders race to save their patient, before it’s too late — battling all sorts of uncertain conditions along the way.

“Certainly adrenaline, certainly stress, they typically run hand-in-hand — I think one causes the other,” Maass said. “I think the members on our water team live for both, and they really do an excellent job in difficult conditions.”

All Richmond Fire Department firefighters are trained EMTs or paramedics. Maass adds this helps to make the rescue process faster and more successful.

“It really makes a difference in medical emergencies,” Maass said. “We can do them in any type of atmosphere.”