Cannon Beach Fire Chief Cleve Rooper praised Nathan Neale's bravery.
"If it hadn't been for that surfer, they might not have held out in the water until a helicopter got out there or our crews got to them," he said. "He risked his own neck to go out there in some pretty rough conditions and bring those two in."
Rooper advised the public to swim where there is a lifeguard and check with the lifeguard first. He said the water can be very cold and "strong rip currents can pull you out to sea in a very short time."
This week is the first national Rip Current Awareness Week. According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, rip tides are channels of fast-moving water that pull even seasoned swimmers away from shore.
Rip tides kill about 100 people each year, with panic and exhaustion causing victims to drown. People caught in a rip tide should swim along the shore until out of the current's reach, then swim at an angle toward shore.