A man who came to the rescue after a woman got swept away in the Manawatu River earlier today had to be rescued himself.
Police rescued the 34-year-old man who went to save an 18-year-old woman who was stuck in the river near Waitoetoe Park, at the end of Maxwell's Line, just before 12pm, Fairfax Media reports.
The man held onto the woman as firefighters and police tried to help the pair from the riverbank with ropes and floatation devices.
When they were visibly struggling, firefighter Anne Cairns was sent in to assist.
"I said I'll jump in and swim, so I tried to swim with the ropes and the buoys out to the middle of the river so we would have some floatation, but there was too much drag on the ropes so I ditched those and swam out to them," she told Fairfax Media.
A rescue helicopter showed up just as both were starting to show signs of hypothermia. Ms Cairns said the woman didn't comprehend what was going on.
The helicopter lifted the pair with a rescue hoist and basket and moved them to a nearby bank where St John was waiting to help. The rescue took five to 10 minutes.
They were then taken to Palmerston North Hospital.
Ms Cairns dubbed the man a hero, and said he "pretty much saved her life".