EAST LAKE, Fla. -- You can find it pretty much anywhere you look: water; it takes up a great percentage of this state.That’s why we rank number 1 in the nation when it comes to submerged vehicles; but are local rescue agencies equipped if you were in one of those sinking cars?
East Lake Fire Department is. They are ready to go but more all of the other Fire Departments in Pinellas County are not.
Saturday morning at an East Lake Fire Rescue open house, firefighters were proud to show off a trained skill, a skill that could save your life if you and your vehicle ended up into a body of water.
“It’s given us a whole other level of response capabilities,” says Lt. Gary Hurlbut, East Lake Fire Rescue.
Lt. Hurlbut is part of the Water Extrication Team, also known as WET, coordinator.
“Before equipment, we didn’t have it and still we were jumping into water. With training, we can successfully get into water for a safe rescue and keep us safe,” says Lt. Hurlbut.
The WET team has been active for almost a year now at the department.
“This past year, we responded to 3-4 cars in the water,’ says Lt. Hurlbut.
But 10News WTSP has learned they are not only the first department with this training in Pinellas County but still one of the only ones. Madeira Beach is now also active.
“I know other departments are working on it. But it’s an area that really needs to be focused on,” says David Root, East Lake Fire Commissioner.
Just a week ago—a car with three girls inside landed in a St. Pete pond.
"Clearly it is so desperately needed."
Pinellas County Commissioner David Eggers telling 10News WTSP that this type of training is something he hopes will soon show up at every fire agency in Pinellas County.
“It needs to be available and ready,” says Commissioner David Eggers.