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Key Largo Firefighters Compete Nationally

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  • Key Largo Firefighters Compete Nationally

    Volunteer fire crew fired up
    Key Largo team places third at competition

    By Kevin Wadlow Senior Staff Writer [email protected]

    A Key Largo firefighter squad ranked among the best at a regional accident-rescue competition, despite being the event’s only all-volunteer unit.

    Key Largo’s entry at the multi-state Southeast Extrication Challenge took third place in a 16-team field.

    "Not bad for a bunch of volunteers," said Key Largo Volunteer Fire and Rescue Chief Sergio Garcia.

    "All these other teams get paid to train. Our guys only start training after they finish a day of work."

    The Challenge, held May 21 to 25 in Palm Beach County, consists of two mock vehicle-accident scenarios, said Deputy Chief Rick Fernandez, the team leader.

    Teams work to free a trapped accident victim as rapidly as possible while ensuring the patient’s health. Judges rate teams on five factors: Command and control, safety, equipment knowledge, speed and patient treatment.

    Key Largo’s team took second place in the "Limited" scenario, where teams are limited to using only hand tools.

    In the "Unlimited" test, where hydraulic gear such as the Jaws of Life can be used, Key Largo took fourth place.

    Points from the combined events gave the Upper Keys unit third place overall, trailing only veteran teams from Seminole and Tallahassee.

    Key Largo finished ahead of professional rescue units from West Palm Beach, Gainesville, Pembroke Pines, Clearwater and Orange County, among others.

    Joining Fernandez on this year’s local entry were Lt. James Griffeth and firefighters Manny Leon, Clint Jones, Brian King and Frank Conklin.

    All expenses for the trip were taken from community contributions, not county tax funding, Garcia noted.

    "That experience helps save lives on the streets of our community and that’s priceless," said Fernandez. "The cost of the event is nothing compared to the benefits brought back by team members, knowledge and experience they share with fellow firefighters from all over Monroe County
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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