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East County Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020 1 week ago

Officials, firefighters commemorate Myakka's first ambulance

Locals talk about what Myakka City's first ambulance will mean to the community.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

How do you feel when you hear a siren?

Curious, perhaps, about what happened and where. If you’re speeding, you might tense up like a kid with one hand in the cookie jar. And if you’re the person at the scene of an emergency, maybe that siren gives you a glimmer of hope.

In the past, Myakka City residents in need of emergency response had to wait up to 20 minutes for that crucial glimmer of hope — an ambulance — to arrive from another town. Not anymore.

Fire chiefs, commissioners, county officials and firefighters gathered Monday morning at Myakka City Fire Rescue Station 1 on Wauchula Road to commemorate the first day on the job for Myakka’s first ambulance. Before the addition, ambulances had to drive from the east Bradenton area, often East Manatee Station 5 about 16 miles away.

(From left) Manatee County EMS Chief James Crutchfield, Myakka fire chief Daniel Cacchiotti and East Manatee fire chief Lee Whitehurst were among those who addressed the welcome committee.

It’s been a process about nine years in the making, according to Daniel Cacchiotti, Myakka City’s fire chief. But the idea of obtaining an ambulance for Myakka City didn’t pick up steam at the county level until about 18 months ago.

“I've never felt that Myakka was treated the way it should have been with our budgeting and personnel and so forth,” County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said. “I realize that Myakka doesn't have the population. But at the same time, Myakka is so far from any hospital, any medical facility. It's a haul. So they needed to make sure that out here in Myakka we did have what we needed to take care of the people until we could get them into town, as they say.”

Baugh admitted she didn’t think Myakka City getting an ambulance would happen while she was still in office. The addition felt especially timely to her considering the circumstances of living during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of times when EMS responds to a call and they know the patient’s sick, they don't know [whether] it's COVID or not,” Baugh said. “And so it's imperative that we have, out here in Myakka, an ambulance to be able to start procedures, treatment, ASAP. Sometimes it's truly a matter of life and death. ... I've had friends, who were very well known in this community, who lost the battle with COVID. And I can't help but feel that the family, myself and the people in Myakka would have felt a lot better had an ambulance been here to take him to the hospital initially.”

Cacchiotti said Manatee County EMS Chief James Crutchfield and county commissioner Baugh were instrumental in bringing the ambulance to Myakka City.

“It's not only the team here at Myakka, or the team at East Manatee [Fire Rescue],” Cacchiotti said. “Manatee County Public Safety has a team that works like no other in the country. And I think we should all be proud of the way we respond, the way we serve our community and we always stay focused on the ball.”

Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

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