DCFS offers insight about
fire and EMS response
By Darian Brown, deputy chief of Dixie County Emergency Services
Published July 20, 2017 at 9:37 a.m.
DIXIE COUNTY -- On many occasions our department (Dixie County Fire Services) is asked the question, why do you have to send so many trucks to a call.
More Below This Ad
Hopefully we can answer some of those questions with this article. For medical calls, it requires a minimum of two persons to load and care for the patient. We staff two members on each of our three ambulances. Unfortunately there are times when we respond to a serious call that requires many lifesaving steps to occur quickly and two people may not be enough to get it done in a timely manner.
With certain types of calls that would meet this criteria, we immediately dispatch a medical unit; and we send another crew, generally a fire apparatus with paramedics on board to assist with manpower issues. Our staffed fire engine is capable of doing anything that our ambulance is with the exception of transporting the patient. We will also send this unit during times when they are closer than our EMS units to the call, as quick medical care has been proven to save lives. We try to get the closest appropriate unit on scene as quick as we can so that proper care can be initiated.
We understand that sometimes it appears that it is not needed, but the goal is to provide quality care in a short amount of time to ensure a positive outcome for our citizens. Our service runs almost 4,000 medical calls annually with only three trucks. Everything is transported to Gainesville as this is our nearest hospital in most cases. It takes a minimum of three hours to get to the call, load a patient, drive to the ER and then unload and return. Many times our units are out of the station all day and most of the night because of this.
For this reason, we encourage our citizens (residents and visitors in Dixie County) to use the 9-1-1 system instead of driving to a station, as they likely will be out of station on a call. If you call 9-1-1, then our dispatch will send the closest available truck and generally it will save time.
In regard to fires, it becomes more complicated, as it takes no less than four trained members to even begin an attack at a working fire. If it is a house fire, it may take up to 20 people to perform all needed tasks. We do not have the luxury of prioritizing when we do these tasks as most of them have to be done immediately.
Every second that a fire burns it becomes that much more difficult to handle and compounds all manpower and equipment issues. Dixie County Fire Service only has three firefighters on duty at any given time. The remainder of the needed staff comes from our 19 certified volunteers that are spread out over the entire county and any available supervisors in our administrative office.
Generally when we have a call many volunteers are busy at work or unavailable. We will regularly have to call several stations in order to get enough help to even get started. When you see a fire with 5 or 6 trucks there remember that each truck may have only had one or two firefighters on board. Also remember that we generally have no fire hydrants and must bring our own water supply. A working fire may require as much as 30 to 50,000 gallons to control. Our trucks only carry an average of 1000 gallons each. This requires the response of several trucks to have enough water to get started. After that we must shuttle water to the call with our two tankers to finish the work.
We are also asked why so many supervisor vehicles have to go to a call. As stated above, we never have enough help. This requires that they stop their daily duties and respond. Each vehicle carries his or her own protective equipment so that they can respond from anywhere at any time, therefore they must bring their vehicle so that they have their equipment that allows them to work. Without this response from our supervisors we would be unable to complete most of the work that is done at an emergency scene.
We understand that it looks like a waste of fuel sometimes, but in our rural community with limited funds and resources we have to use every advantage that we may have to keep you the citizen safe and provide quality care and service. We do have policy in place to allow our first on scene to cancel any units not needed and we practice this on a regular basis, but there are times that the situation will not permit a one truck response since we can’t put enough people on the truck to handle the calls. We also do not generally have enough information during the dispatch of a call to make accurate decisions and must therefore plan for the worst.
Generally when a 9-1-1 call is made the caller is excited or panicked and accurate information may not be relayed, thus leading to the possibility of not sending enough help if we only make decisions based on this information. We must plan for the worst situation, as it is too late to try and catch up after you arrive.
Please remember that you can assist us as well in our response. Routinely our units are slowed down by drivers that do not move over to allow them to pass. Please try to yield the right of way to allow these larger apparatus to get by without having to slow down or change lanes. This will allow for a safer and quicker response. It is also necessary, due to the size and weight for our units to stay on the road surface when possible. Please move over if you are approaching a parked unit to allow for a safe area around the truck for our responders. Routinely in our state, emergency workers are killed on our highways. The state has implemented a law that requires drivers to slow down and move over, but many times it does not happen. This creates a dangerous work area for our workers.
I hope that this answers some of the questions that are out there. Our entire service makes every effort to provide good care and service while still remembering that it must be done as economically as possible. We make every effort to ensure that this is done without undue cost or abuse of our already limited budgets. We understand that sometimes, to the untrained bystander some things seem unnecessary, but we ask that you understand that things are not always as easy as they appear and that we are truly concerned about saving your tax dollars as often as is possible, but we are also concerned about providing you the service that you expect and should receive. If you have any question or would like to have a better understanding of any aspect of our service, please do not hesitate to call. We will be happy to sit down and answer any questions that you may have. In the end, it is your service and we are here for you.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This article is by Chief Darian Brown in Dixie County, however many of the facts here are relevant to all of the firefighters, paramedics and EMTs in Gilchrist County, Levy County and in the volunteer fire departments in the various cities in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
for blood donors
Published July 18, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.
GAINESVILLE -- LifeSouth Community Blood Centers faces emergency need for all blood types, and encourages the community to donate blood, according to a press release at 2:26 p.m. on Tuesday (July 18).
Summer is historically a slow time for blood donations due to travel and school breaks, while the need to help patients in local hospitals remains constant. This summer continues to be a challenge not only to LifeSouth, but also to blood centers across the country.
“Donations have decreased exceptionally this summer, and patients at our hospitals are depending on donors to give blood,” said LifeSouth District Director Lorrie Woods.
LifeSouth encourages donors to come into a donor center or find a blood drive location on their website, http://www.lifesouth.org/. First time donors are always welcome and encouraged to give blood donation a try. All donors are important to help meet the needs of the local blood supply.
LifeSouth only uses the word “emergency” when the reserve supply to restock area hospitals drops below a two-day level. All blood types are needed, especially negative blood types and O negative, which is the universal donor and can be used by all patients in an emergency. Platelet donations are also critically needed now.
“Patients at our hospitals depend on blood donors to survive. We need the help of our donors and new donors today,” Woods said.
All donors receive a thank you gift, and a mini-physical, including blood pressure, temperature, iron level and cholesterol screen.
Donors must be at least 17 or 16 with parental permission, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. A photo ID is needed.
LifeSouth’s donor center in Chiefland is located at 2202 N. Young Blvd. (U.S. Highway 19), Suite 606.
LifeSouth’s bloodmobiles will also be out at many locations in coming days, including at the Smokin’-N-the-Country BBQ Festival on U.S. Alt. 27 in Williston on Saturday, July 22 from Noon until 7 p.m. For additional information call LifeSouth toll-free at 888-795-2707 or visit http://www.lifesouth.org/.
Public hearing set for July 25
for Chiefland intersection
U.S. Highway 19 and 21st Avenue North
By Monica Reifeiss of Atkins Global
Published July 15, 2017 at 7:27 a.m.
CHIEFLAND – The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is scheduled to host a public hearing to discuss proposed median modifications on U.S. Highway 19 (State Road 55) at Northwest 21st Avenue in Chiefland.
This is the intersection where Taco Bell is on the northeast corner and Murphy Express is on the northwest corner. Motorists have complained about the intersection, which has included accidents as a result of how it currently exists.
The public hearing is set to take place Tuesday, July 25, at the FDOT Chiefland Maintenance Office located at 1820 S. Young Blvd. (U.S. Alt. 27), in Chiefland, beginning with an open house from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The open house will allow attendees to review displays and speak with FDOT staff and their team.
A short presentation and formal comment period will follow immediately after the open house at 6:30 p.m.
The purpose of this project is to modify an existing full median opening, and to change it into a directional left turn median.
The project is located on State Road 55 (U.S. Highway 19/98) at the intersection of Northwest 21st Avenue in Chiefland. Vehicles approaching U.S. 19 (SR 55) from Northwest 21st Avenue will be required to make a right turn only onto SR 55.
In order to increase visibility of oncoming traffic, while making left turns from SR 55 to Northwest 21st Avenue, the turn lanes have been shifted to the left. Other improvements include updated pavement markings and signing along with minor drainage upgrades.
This project is considered a push button contract, which allows the design and construction for small improvements to roadways to be accelerated, since this project does not require a full design process and advertisement for construction. This project is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2018, however, the schedule can change at any time depending on funding.
Public participation is sought without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability or family status. For more information, contact FDOT Project Manager Amanda Farnell at 800-749-2967. Comments can be sent to the FDOT Project Manager at Amanda.Farnell@dot.state.fl.us. Please send comments by Aug. 4 to be included in the public hearing public record.
To learn more about this project and other projects around Northeast Florida, please visit NFLRoads.com.
WWII veteran is
thankful and humbled
Byrd Griffin relaxes in the living room of his home in Chiefland on Tuesday morning (July 11).
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 12, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.
CHIEFLAND -- The last surviving charter member of Chiefland Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5625 shared some of his time Tuesday morning (July 11) when requested to do so by HardisonInk.com.
Ivy Byrd Griffin, 92, said he is thankful to God for being blessed with good health. He feels humbled to be able to ride a bicycle and to play golf.
He is best known by his middle name rather than his first name. Byrd Griffin joins Jim Smith as being two of the last active charter members of the Chiefland Golf and Country Club too.
Griffin says he has enjoyed many games of golf with Smith over the past many years.
Griffin was one of about 15 boys who joined the United States Army Air Corps before graduating Chiefland High School during World War II, he said.
He and Bob Horn were seniors at CHS in October of 1942 when they joined, he said. His brother Jack Griffin and the man who was the manager of the Rural Electrification Administration office in Chiefland were a couple of other Chiefland area men who joined the Army at the same time, Byrd Griffin said.
The recruiter promised all of the high school boys who joined from CHS that they would remain stationed at Panama City, where they would work on airplane engines for the duration of the war. They would also earn their high school diplomas via enlisting in the military.
That is not exactly how things turned out.
Instead, Byrd Griffin ended up being stationed in England and he became a gunner positioned in the top turret of a bomber that flew over Europe during WWII. He fired a .50 caliber mounted machine gun at enemy fighter planes attacking the bomber he served on as a staff sergeant.
The turret was above the top part of the B-24 and he was behind a Plexiglas globe. Griffin would occasionally need to ask the radio operator, who was position in the aircraft below him, to share his oxygen by passing the mask up.
Griffin couldn’t wear his parachute, because there was not room in the area where he needed to be able to shoot, but it was within reach if he ever needed to grab it. He never needed to use the parachute.
Griffin said there is no part of war that is good; however, in the instance where it was needed to overcome tyranny from Nazi Germany’s Adolph Hitler, it was necessary.
After taking the oath as a soldier at Camp Blanding to serve in the United States Army Air Corps, Griffin was sent to Panama City. Then he went to a base in North Carolina where he worked from midnight until 6 a.m. to learn how to be an airplane mechanic.
His class time might seem unusual, however there were round-the clock classes, he said, as the United States put everything into high gear for WWII. After those six months of airplane mechanic school, he was sent to an Army Air Corps base in Fort Myers, where he learned to be a gunner for six weeks.
Next, he was sent out west. He became part of a crew that was to man a B-24. They practiced bombing for several months.
It was at a base in West Palm Beach where he opened his then secret orders with his colleagues, and he learned they were to join the 8th Air Force in England.
In this photo from Griffin’s active duty days in WWII, the following men on the crew are seen (standing) pilot Nelson Stewart, co-pilot Bert Betts, navigator Kenneth Enockson, bombardier Harold Fray, (kneeling) James Mitchell, Thomas ‘Bark’ Brown, Jon Baker, Elam Behrens, Byrd Griffin and George Smith.
This painting of the B-24 named ‘Gator’ is an artist’s representation. Actually, when flak was exploding around the bombers and they were dropping bombs, no German fighter pilots would be attempting to shoot at the bombers, Griffin said.
This wooden plaque shows the set of ribbons earned by S/Sgt. Ivy B. Griffin, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak clusters.
This certificate of valor was awarded for courage and devotion of duty. It shows he was given the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.
United States Army Air Corps Staff Sergeant Ivy Byrd Griffin became the engineer gunner in the top turret in Crew 76, 8th Air Force, 2nd Air Division, 458th Bomb Group, 755th Bomb Squadron, based out of Norwich, England.
Before arriving in Wales, the men flew Brazil and then spent a while in North Africa.
They flew 30 missions in 90 days, bombing German targets.
His first combat mission was on March 8, 1944, although his group flew its first mission on March 6, 1944.
That March 6 flight was the first daylight bombing raid on Berlin. The men who flew that deep into Germany on bombers did not have fighter support after a certain number of miles, because the fighters lacked the fuel storage for that range, he said.
Anti-aircraft fire was heavy as the crews flew deeper into Germany. There were 60 United States and other allied aircraft crews lost the first day on March 6, Griffin said.
During the March 8, 1944 daylight raid, when Griffin was part of the group, there were 623 bombers involved.
During that March 8 bombing raid, 37 United States bombers were lost and 18 fighters were also lost, according to records.
The Luftwaffe lost 42 fighter planes, according to records.
The crew members who Griffin served with named their B-24 “Gator” in honor of their pilot, who was from Miami. The B-24 Gator and all of the other bombers that Griffin’s crew flew on eventually were shot down, he said, although never when he was on board.
“My crew made 30 missions and we never had to bailout,” Griffin said.
He is thankful to God for having been spared from death during the war. The thought of bailing out at the same time that bombs are dropping from the sky is frightening. Dearth was always at the doorstep for American soldiers in active combat zones.
There were incendiary bombs, fragmentary bombs, and various other forms of explosive devices dropped on the enemy.
Griffin was part of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
On June 6, 1944, the crew of the B-24 named “Gator” completed two missions of bombing runs over Normandy. He said that as they flew toward the coast and he looked through the clouds, he could see hundreds of ships “bumper to bumper.”
The crew was told on its June 8, 1944 mission to drop the bombs even deeper into the target area, to avoid hitting the Allied Forces, Griffin said.
Byrd Griffin said he and all of the other member of the American armed forces fought against Adolf Hitler and the other tyrants who wanted to rule the world.
Hitler was making progress in Europe, and the fronts in the Pacific were also points where the United States Army Air Corps had to drop bombs.
Griffin said he is thankful to God that United States President Harry S. Truman, during the final stage of World War II, ordered the United States to drop nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.
Those two bombings killed at least 129,000 people, and they remain as the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history.
Griffin said he and his colleagues fought in the war to protect American freedom.
Today, all Americans have the right to vote for whomever they want. And today, when a person from one political party or another political party snubs a person for choosing to vote one way or another, Griffin says that is not what freedom is about.
American freedom means a person can belong to any political party, or no political party. They can vote for a candidate in their party or in a different party. People can even choose to not even register to vote.
Hitler was taking over all of Europe, Griffin said, and there needed to be a war to stop the Nazi threat. If America had not entered WWII, then Americans might be speaking German as their primary language now, he said.
Looking back, though, he remembers seeing those green fields and towns he and his fellow soldiers had to fly over as they bombed military and industrial targets. Griffin said that any part of war is bad.
“Here I was,” he said, “going to kill a bunch of people. And they would kill me if they were able to. It seems foolish in a way. If the people who sent us to fight had to fight themselves, then maybe there would not be so many wars.”
As for the war in the Pacific Theater, Griffin said he is thankful that President Harry S. Truman ordered the United States to drop nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.
The result of those two bombs being dropped was victory for the United States and its allies in WWII. Since then, no nuclear weapon has been used in war.
With the advances in rockets and weaponry since the first atomic bombs, Griffin said he understands how saber-rattling could lead to a catastrophic event.
As for the years immediately after WWII, the return to Chiefland was pleasant for the decorated soldier.
Griffin had been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, which is known as the Distinguished Flying Cross from the United States Army Air Corps.
He also earned the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and other honors for his military service during WWII.
Once back in Chiefland, he opened Griffin Department Store in November of 1946. That clothing store was located in the very sturdy building that still stands on the east side of Main Street (U.S. Highway 19) south of Park Avenue, on the other side of the parking lot for the old Drummond Bank outlet.
Griffin worked in his store from November of 1946 until he retired 37 years later in May of 1984.
Now Vickie and Fred’s Used Furniture Store occupies most of the space in the building that used to house Griffin’s Department Store, although the southern portion of the structure includes a dentist’s office.
Dr. Robert Mount, another dentist in downtown Chiefland, has his office on West Park Avenue. Dr. Mount’s advertisement is on the HOME PAGE at http://hardisonink.com/index.php#dentist.
One of the biggest changes in the business arena of Chiefland, Griffin said, was when Walmart opened in 1995. Many smaller store merchants were sorry to see that happen, he said.
Walmart was able to offer consumers prices that were lower than what the small store owners could offer. As a result, a number of local business interests closed.
Griffin and his wife Evelyn have two daughters. Those daughters are Carol, who married Will Irby, and Rhonda, who married Phil Horn.
Byrd Griffin’s wife Evelyn is in a healthcare facility now due to her suffering from dementia, Griffin said. He said she is receiving good care there.
As for him, Griffin is thankful and humbled to have been blessed by God with good health. He is a member of the congregation at First Baptist Church of Chiefland.
FWC starts holiday patrols
Operation Dry Water begins
FWC Officer Paul Schulz
Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 30, 2017 at 11:47 p.m.
LEVY COUNTY -- Launching into the Suwannee River from Joe Anderson Park in Dixie County, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officer began a three-hour ride-along tour on Friday (June 30) for a Florida journalist as the start of what would probably be a set of 10-hour days for the state law enforcement officer.
In this video, FWC Officer Paul Schulz operates the boat on a relatively empty Suwannee River late Friday afternoon (June 30). About six boats were checked for safety equipment in the first three hours, and several people were helped in other manners by the officer. At the very end of this short set of clips, some of the glassy smooth water on the river is seen from Friday afternoon.
FWC Officer Paul Schulz, 26, issued a couple of written warnings and about a half-dozen boat safety certification stickers in the first few hours of his participation in the national Operation Dry Water June 30-July 2, and extending through the July Fourth holiday.
He found opportunities to speak about banded water snakes and manatees as well.
A swallow-tailed kite drinks water from the Suwannee River. (It's the light crescent shape in the center of the picture.) This moment was the first time that FWC Officer Paul Schulz had seen that happen.
The FWC patch shows a buck, a swallow-tailed kite and a fish.
The open river.
From a wildlife perspective, one first for the officer who is about to enter his third year in the FWC field of law enforcement, was a swallow-tailed kite taking a sip of water from the Suwannee River as it flew down for a quick nip in front of the boat.
The officer mentioned that the bird may have noticed its likeness on the logo of the FWC, which is on the left sleeve of his uniform shirt.
On this shift, Officer Schulz was assigned to Levy County.
The first boaters he had an opportunity to inspect included a staff member from the Levy County Courthouse, where he visited earlier that day.
Matthew Swilley and Ashley Swilley speak with FWC Officer Paul Schulz. Their boat proved to be safely equipped.
As he edged the 14-foot vessel next to the other boat, Ashley Swilley said “Hi Paul.” She and her husband Matthew Swilley of Chiefland were out enjoying the sun and water.
A review of their vessel showed the required life jackets, throwable personal floatation device, a functioning horn (or whistle), and a charged fire extinguisher. If they were on the Gulf of Mexico, a set of marine flares would be required as well.
Officer Schulz said all of the officers on the FWC seek to help keep people safe. The Fourth of July weekend is the busiest on the Florida waterways during the year, he said.
Last July, there were the most fatalities in one month, and in 2016, there were the most deaths in Florida on the waterways. Eight people died last July and there were 96 reportable accidents that month in Florida, he said.
Twenty-four percent of the 2016 fatal boating accidents included alcohol or other drugs as contributing factors, he said.
Exposure to the sun, wind and vibrations intensify the effects of alcoholic beverages on a person, he said. There are no brakes on a boat, he said.
Drinking alcohol reduces a person’s reaction time and their coordination.
That is why it is extremely important to operate a boat without being intoxicated, he said.
In 2016, there were 280 BUI criminal citations issued.
According to Florida Statute Section 327.35, the penalties for Boating under the Influence (BUI) provides as follows: by a fine of not less than $250 or more than $500 for a first conviction; not less than $500 or more than $1,000 for a second conviction; and by imprisonment for not more than six months for a first conviction; and not more than nine months for a second conviction.
As for lesser safety violations, such as not having life vests, horns, throwable personal flotation devices and fire extinguishers, those citations are $90 each.
The start of the tour of duty on Friday for Officer Schulz began at the Joe Anderson park and went south on the river toward the Gulf of Mexico.
The officer first motored into the area of Fanning Springs State Park.
At least a dozen people enjoy the cool waters at Fanning Springs State Park.
A great white egret stands among the cedar knees at Manatee Springs State Park on Friday afternoon (June 30) looking for a late lunch.
More than a dozen people enjoy the cool waters at Manatee Springs State Park.
A banded water snake rests in a tree near the boardwalk of at Manatee Springs State Park.
Taylor Sakal (left) and Kayla Mullen enjoy Manatee Springs State Park. The couple mentioned that they plan to marry each other in the future.
He checked safety equipment on several boats.
He also docked at Manatee Springs State Park and disembarked from the boat to walk on the boardwalk to and from the springhead.
During that tour, he spoke with some visitors who wondered about manatees. Schulz mentioned these mammals are more often seen at the spring run or in the river at that outlet from the springs during the cold days of winter, as they go there to become warmer.
And with some proper guessing by the visiting journalist, the visitors learned that a group of manatee is called a “herd.” Schulz mentioned manatees are also known as “sea cows.”
Taylor Sakal, 24, and Kayla Mullen, 21, both of West Palm Beach had found a banded water snake. This is a non-venomous snake.
Another snake that swims in Florida, though, is the venomous water moccasin or cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus).
Adult cottonmouths are large and capable of delivering a painful and potentially fatal bite. When antagonized, they stand their ground by coiling their bodies and displaying their fangs, which shows the inside of their mouths as being as white as cotton.
These snakes are aggressive and should be avoided.
The banded water snakes are not dangerous.
Another swimming creature that presents a danger in the summer along the Suwannee River is the sturgeon. These prehistoric fish are a protected species.
This sign reminds people about the danger of jumping sturgeon. Jaylon Leighann Rippy died on July 2, 2015. She was only 5 years old.
They jump from the water and if they hit a person, they can cause serious injuries and even death.
Alligators, which are also in the Suwannee River, do not generally present a danger. Do not feed or harass an alligator, not only because it is against the law, but because it is dangerous.
Officer Schulz said the FWC officers enforce state laws to help protect people from property loss, injury and death. He said if people read that operating a boat while intoxicated, or operating a boat without safety equipment causes injuries and deaths, and those people as a result abide by the law and enjoy safe boating experiences, then that is excellent.
The FWC is not out to issue citations just for the sake of issuing citations. The officers are on patrol, however, to help protect life and property. Sometimes citations must be issued, and sometimes suspected criminals must be put in handcuffs and taken into custody.
In his first three years on the job, Officer Schulz has had to arrest people for BUI, and he has even had to arrest a person for driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Another tough duty that he has had to perform in his first three years on duty was to recover a body from the water.
Accidents happen. However, a person operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is not accidental.
And so the first few hours of Operation Dry Water began with no arrests of a BUI suspect by that FWC officer.