NANAIMO -- A volunteer rescuer on Vancouver Island risked his life to save a man who had fallen into the Little Qualicum River on Saturday.

“This is probably the most intense rescue that I have ever had to deal with,” said Nick Rivers, the Arrowsmith Search and Rescue member who went into the water to rescue the fallen man.

It’s still unclear how the man fell into the fast-moving river in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park.

When search and rescue crews arrived on scene in the afternoon, a team of 30 members lowered Rivers on a rope down a 25-metre cliffside into the water.

“He was quite cold and hypothermic when I got to him,” Rivers said.

“One of the other biggest pieces going through my mind is that I also want to home to my family,” said Rivers.

Michael Clarke who walks in the park every day happened upon the rescue and started recording it as Rivers was entering the water.

“It was such a courageous act,” said Clarke. “He risked his life.”

Clarke said at one point during the rescue the man seemed to let go.

“He slipped away and it looked like he was going to go down,” said Clarke. “I think if the guy didn’t grab him he would have lost him right there.”

Crews were able to lift the man and the rescuer to safety as the crowd looked on.

“When they finally got the guy out the whole crowd just erupted and cheered,” said Clarke.

“We were both quite exhausted,” said Rivers. “We both were bruised and scratched up.”

The man was stretchered to a waiting ambulance and taken to hospital.