EAST LAKE — We've seen it happen numerous times and it usually ends in tragedy.
You find yourself trapped underwater, and there may be no one to save you.
There's a startling lack of rescuers who can dive in immediately to help.
It's a story 10News WTSP has been on top of for more than a year after Kristel Oliver drowned waiting for a dive team to arrive.
Now, a Pinellas County commissioner is calling for more rapid response teams across the county.
10News is digging deeper into whether it's worth your tax dollars.
Pinellas County is nearly surrounded by water, but of the 18 fire departments in the county, only East Lake can immediately go underwater when your life is on the line.
“Why doesn't every station have a team like this?” asked 10News reporter Mark Rivera.
“You could use that same line of logic and say why isn't there a rescue boat stationed on every body of water,” said East Lake Fire Rescue Chief Tom Jamison.
Jamison said it comes down to spending your tax money. But how much are we really talking?
Every rapid response unit has these items in it:
- Rapid diving gear.
- A full face mask.
- Communications box, so rescuers can talk to the folks back on land.
- A pair of fins.
That runs you about $6,600. It costs about $1,000 a piece to train each firefighter. Say you need 10 kits and to train 20 firefighters. That's $86,000.
But compare it to the sticker price of a new fire truck? $500,000.
Or the cost of 20 handheld fire radios -- $90,000 -- and it looks cheap.
But today 10News learned the county is working to help.
It plans to spend $150,000 to strategically place equipment and train departments to cut dive team response times in the next three months.
We'll be watching.