(WTOC) -The firefighter that rescued a driver from the Savannah River on Friday night says that was his first “real” rescue.

Jeremy Veale is an advanced firefighter for Savannah Fire. He says when they arrived on the scene, he was told to rappel down to the man who was clinging onto a pole. Veale says they go through more than 120 hours of training for rope rescues. He says the man was alert the whole time during the roughly 16-minute rescue.

“I’m reassuring to the gentleman that I’m coming for him,” said Veale. “I let him know that it was just a few more feet and to just hang on. I made contact with him and got about waist-deep in the water and then I grabbed onto him.”

Veale says it takes about a minute to put on the harness used in the rescue. He then used webbing to get a better hold of the man while they waited for a boat to come get him.

“This type of thing is probably a once in a career type thing.”

In about 16 minutes the man was brought back to solid ground. During the whole operation, he was alert and listening to commands. Veale says the rescue went exactly as they had hoped it would.

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to do it.”