Firefighters using pickup truck to get to beach emergencies

Posted at 7:05 PM, Jun 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-29 19:05:10-04

St. Pete Beach firefighters have a unique new truck designed to get to you several minutes faster in an emergency.

St. Pete Beach firefighters have rushed out to the sand 30 times for water rescues since January. They’ve seen such a big spike, that Pinellas County sent them a new tool: An F-550 pickup truck souped-up to handle any emergency. 

Firefighter Zachary Collins says it’s already saved precious seconds since they put the truck in action 8 days ago. “We can use it for near drownings, drownings, boat issues, jet ski crashes.”

The 4-wheel drive truck can get right to the water’s edge, even miles down the sand!

What used to take a fire truck, 4-wheelers and an ambulance, is now packed into a single pickup truck.

“Before we had this medic truck, we’d have to put all the stuff on our backs and run out to the patient on the sand. By the time you got there, you are already very tired and sweating.”

Fire Chief Jim Kilpatrick says the new trucks can shave several minutes off their response times, especially for rescues in tricky areas or ones involving multiple patients.

Fire rescue teams are also getting dive certified. Once firefighters pass several tests, they can carry full SCUBA gear so they’re always ready to jump in. 

It’s comforting news for beach visitor and mom Lauren Smith, who recently learned the precious value of seconds.

“We’ve had a choking incident with our daughter where  emergency teams had to come to the house. That time in between when you’re waiting for them to get to you is terrifying. Literally every second counts.”

Medic 22 will be used throughout Pinellas County Beaches since St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue provides backup for several other beachfront communities. It will be housed at the station at 1950 Pass A Grille Way.