May unofficially represents 'recognition' month for the Jacksonville Fire/Rescue Department, as two promotional ceremonies (May 6 and May 27) and the Annual Awards Ceremony (Friday, May 8, and the date for the official unveiling of the Firefighter of the Year) will signify a very special occasion in the lives of those firefighters honored on the aforementioned dates. Congratulations to all promotion/award recipients for a job well done!
Tragedy struck on Monday, May 11 shortly after noon time, as units responded to an incident on Boney Road involving the drowning of two toddlers. The twin girls had apparently made their way to a retention pond located immediately behind their home. They were discovered at the bottom of the pond by their grandfather who, after removing the children from the water, joined in with other adults at the scene to perform CPR until the arrival of emergency responders. Although the girls were flown by both area Air Transport Units (LifeFlight and Trauma 1) to Shands, the unfortunate victims were soon pronounced dead at the hospital. A truly devastating reminder of just how deadly a combination of 'water sources' and children can really be and, in light of the impending arrival of summer, a timely message to the community to muster as much vigilance as possible in order to prevent drowning accidents from occurring.
On a far more positive note: the Department was afforded a unique opportunity to showcase the city's Hazardous Materials Team, as the local CBS/FOX network affiliate sacrificed nearly 30 minutes of broadcast time to air a special segment on the aforementioned topic. Gathering at the Fire/Rescue Training Academy on Monday evening, May 18, the team demonstrated to a live audience (a truly historic and unprecedented occasion, as no broadcast entity of the city has ever made such an elaborate commitment to the Fire/Rescue Department before) how live pit fire training and other simulated scenarios assist in preapring the firefighters for specific emergencies, such as the infamous T2 labs explosion from December of 2007. Thanks to all of the participants who made the event a resounding success as well as a mutually beneficial and rewarding arrangement.