Florida Firefighter Receives Award of Excellence for Water Rescue

Scene of a partly submerged vehicle where a woman was rescued by firefighters during flashing flooding in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Firefighter Jeremy Deins received the Award of Excellence in EMS/Rescue from the Florida Fire Chiefs Association for his work and heroic action in rescuing a victim after her vehicle was submerged in water on October 28, 2015.

On October 28, 2015 around 7:30 a.m., St. Petersburg (FL) Fire & Rescue responded to the 600 block of Rosa Park for a vehicle in the water. Earlier that morning a severe weather system had come through the downtown area of St. Petersburg, dumping several inches of rain within minutes.

When Fire & Rescue crews arrived on scene, they  found an occupant trapped inside her SUV, which had landed in a flooded canal; with water still rising in the canal, fire crews had to act fast. A flash flood in the area saw water rising to approximately four to five feet above the canal and caused the roadway that ran parallel to the canal to become completely covered. The driver of the vehicle was unfamiliar with the area and didn’t realize the inherent dangers of the canal. Due to the rapids that had developed in the area, her vehicle got caught in the swift water and began to sink.

Firefighter Jeremy Deins with the award

The vehicle’s engine compartment quickly pulled the front of the vehicle downward, causing the SUV to invert in the canal. Fire crews on scene had to tie off with ropes in order to safely enter the fast-moving current. Entering the water upstream, they floated down to the vehicle. The driver, who was still trapped inside, climbed to the back of the vehicle where she saw Firefighter Jeremy Deins. Firefighter Deins had climbed on top of  the vehicle and used a haligan bar that he carried with him to break the rear window in the SUV. After breaking the glass to reach the driver, Firefighter Deins and driver of the SUV reentered the water together, allowing crew members on land to pull them to safety. The female occupant that was inside the vehicle was taken to Bayfront Health Center, where she was treated for minor cuts and abrasions.

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