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Firefighters Donate Lifesaving Gear To OCSO Deputies

Ocean City-Wright Firefighters donated lifesaving equipment to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office at a presentation Thursday that will help make rescue attempts safer and quicker for deputies and victims.

Leading the presentation was Captain Ryan Christen, a sixteen year veteran of the Ocean City-Wright Fire Department. Christen says donating the safety gear provides a great opportunity to lend a hand to their fellow team mates on the streets, Sheriff Larry Ashley and his deputies, especially when saving time means saving lives, "The device, what’s great about it, it’s small it can fit in your pocket. It’s got a key ring on it so it can be used as a key chain as well. It’s got a safety clip right here that you can pop the safety clip off. The device has a center punch that you can use to break the window and immediately turn it around with one hand reach in a cut the seatbelt as well. So, without having to switch between tools, without having to carry something large and bulky, deputies can gain access through a window, cut a seat belt and get somebody out of a vehicle within seconds."

Ocean City- Wright Firefighters presented the Sheriff’s Office with 200 devices, enough for every patrol deputy in the county. The safety equipment was purchased through a public safety fund made up of donations provided to the OCW Fire Department for special community projects.

And, prompted by the dramatic Christmas Day rescue of a car crash victim whose vehicle was engulfed in flames at the time. The rescue was captured on a body video camera, and earned two Okaloosa County Deputies, Joseph Trimboli and Eric Keyes Medals of Merit and Lifesaving Awards, "We saw in December of 2014, two deputies that were involved in an outstanding rescue, pulled a man from a burning car. Now had they been there a little bit later or had circumstances been a little bit different the outcome might not have been quite as favorable. And that’s a great example of where seconds matter."

Sheriff Larry Ashley was on hand to accept the donation of safety equipment and says that there is solidarity between the two departments. Ashley says the Sherriff’s Office certainly appreciates the training opportunities available and it definitely makes both professions better, " Both professions are in the life saving business and these guys put it on the line every day. And, if our officers were to ever go down we know who we’d want to come tend to us. And, we have a lot of respect for our firefighter professionals and our friends. With that camaraderie comes a lot of joking and a lot of good natured competition, but when it comes to saving lives both professions are very serious about it.  And we can put these to great use because the incident you described, you could see the officer strike that window twice with a flashlight and it kind of bounced off, bounced off, bounced off. These things will certainly help make entry into a vehicle and extract people a lot more faster and safer."

In addition to providing the rescue tools, the fire department also produced an eleven minute training video that demonstrates the various scenarios the devise could be used for as part of a joint training initiative, "That’s one part of this; the bigger part of this is that this is part of a joint training endeavor between our agency and yours, a training endeavor that is strongly supported by my fire chief and by the sheriff. That joint training out on the street translates to seconds saved, which translates to lives saved."

It is a common practice for both departments to respond to emergencies in the area. In some cases firefighters may arrive on the scene to find deputies already beginning CPR or providing basic emergency care while deputies provide safety for the firefighters at dangerous scenes.