News from BSO

OCEAN RESCUE DRILL FEATURES BSO’S ‘MERMAN’

Date: May 2, 2007 PIO# 07-5-8

When he’s not fighting fires or running rescue calls, Broward Sheriff’s Office Firefighter/Paramedic Joel Armas spends his off duty time as a record-breaking monofin swimmer. Armas has competed around the world and last year while representing the U.S., he broke the American record for the 100 meter monofin with a time of 44 seconds. Armas’ nickname is ‘merman’ because the monofin actually looks like a giant mermaid fin!

On Thursday, May 3rd at 10:00 a.m., BSO firefighters will conduct ocean rescue training, rescuing ‘victims’ from the sea directly east of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Town Hall at 4501 Ocean Dr. Our fire trucks that serve the beach carry equipment including specialized rescue boards that allow the rescuers to reach the victims and bring them to shore. Although Armas is a competition swimmer, many of his colleagues at BSO are experienced swimmers and former lifeguards.

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue provides fire, rescue and emergency medical services to Lauderdale by-the-Sea and Sea Ranch Lakes, which are bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and the intracoastal waterway on the west. The residents and visitors to these beachfront areas rely on BSO to deliver a myriad of services, including ocean rescue. As part of our commitment to the citizens that we serve, ongoing training in many disciplines is critical for preparedness to any type of emergency.

Some interesting facts about Joel Armas:

• He was a member of the Cuban National Swim Team.

• He fled Cuba on a raft in 1994, was picked up by the Coast Guard five miles from Key West.

• He was taken to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station until 1996 when he was allowed into the U.S.

• He went to college in Miami, played baseball and was recruited for the monofin sport.

• He became a firefighter/paramedic and joined the Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue family in 2005.

This report by:
Mike Jachles/PIO
05/02/07 1415

MEDIA NOTE: The drill will conclude at 12:30 p.m. for live shot planning purposes. Joel Armas will be available for interviews in Spanish and English after the training.

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