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Florida Paramedics Get Rescue Swimmer Training from U.S. Navy

If an emergency occurs on Lake County's heavily traveled lakes and rivers during the holiday weekends of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, a partnership between the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Lake County Department of Public Safety, Fire Rescue Division, is prepared to respond quickly and effectively.

Similar to the past several years, paramedics from the Lake County Fire Rescue Division will partner with Lake County Sheriff's Office deputies in responding to emergencies occurring on the County's most-used waterways during summer holiday weekends. During the upcoming Memorial Day holiday on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., a paramedic will be stationed on each of three Sheriff's Office vessels patrolling the Harris Chain of Lakes, St. Johns River and Silver Glen Springs.

What is different this year is the paramedics' training. In addition to being equipped with life-saving equipment, including a cardiac monitor and an oxygen tank, Lake County paramedics recently attended a 40-hour training course conducted by the U.S. Navy in Jacksonville.

"The U.S. Navy offered this training to us free," said Christopher Croughwell, Battalion Chief for Lake County Fire Rescue. "We sent 12 firefighters to train and learn rescue swimming techniques from the Navy and to become certified lifeguards."

The partnership is the result of a continuing effort to maximize resources of the Sheriff's Office and Fire Rescue Division to better serve and protect the citizens and visitors of Lake County. One new resource, a countywide 800 MHz radio system that was introduced in July 2009, will greatly enhance communications between the Sheriff's Office, Fire Rescue and a variety of other agencies.

"The new radio system will help interoperability with all the agencies present along the St. Johns River, including Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Coast Guard and Marion County Fire Rescue," Croughwell said.

Contact: Christopher Patton, 352/343-9609, cpatton@lakecountyfl.gov

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