The fire service has confirmed it has called off the search for the woman who jumped into the River Great Ouse from the bridge in Prebend Street, but a dive team has now been brought in.
A brigade spokesman said a fire fighter attached to a safety line had entered the water under the bridge to search for the woman but was called out at 1.42pm.
He added the call for assistance came at 12.24pm, today (June 30) from the ambulance service. Bedford station sent a rescue boat and pump, while the special rescue unit and a further fire engine from Kempston were also scrambled.
A Bedford Fire Service spokesman said: “We left the scene at 2.30pm and police called in a specialist dive team from Norkfolk ealier in the afternoon who arrived at 5pm.”
The spokesman said: “The police are now assessing whether to call in the dive team.”
Eye-witnesses at the scene reported a large rucksack-type bag was retrieved from the water and a visibly-shaken man was seen helping police officers with their enquiries.
Bedfordshire Police confirmed it has called in the Polsar boat - a specialist search and rescue unit - from Norfolk and hopes it will arrive in Bedford within a couple of hours.
A police spokesman is urging anyone who witnessed the incident to call police on 101.
The police helicopter was scrambled to scour the river in Bedford after woman was reported to have jumped in.
A passerby called the emergency services after they saw the woman threatening to jump from the bridge in Prebend Street into the River Great Ouse.
According to police, the witness said she went in, with her bag.
The fire crews, using a boat, carried out a search and rescue operation, while paramedics attended the scene with an ambulance.
The area around the river is cordoned off as the search continues.