The donations will help firefighters better assist people on the beach.
A Siesta Key resident's estate is helping save lives on the island.
Thanks to a donation provided for in the will of former Siesta Key resident Arlene Weisbond, Sarasota County Fire Station No. 13 now has an ATV as well as a power lift for its ambulance. Fire officials said the ATV and lift, which cost a total of $55,000, will improve response times for first responders to assist people on the beach, potentially saving more lives.
"This truly is a great day for Siesta Key residents and visitors," said Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier at a ceremony Feb. 8 commemorating the donation.
Before the department had the Polaris Beach Rescue ATV, first responders would have to drive a fire engine and ambulance to a beach access point, then search on foot for the person experiencing an emergency and carry them back to the vehicles on a stretcher. Now the ATV, which was custom built to carry a stretcher, can go directly from Fire Station No. 13 and on to the beach.
The Stryker Power Loading lift system on the back of the ambulance is also a major asset to the department, fire officials said. Instead of physically lifting people, the lift safely brings them from the ground into the back of the ambulance, limiting the physical toll on first responders.
Weisbond's will first gave the funds to the Siesta Key Fire and Advisory Council, which in turn distributed them to the fire department. After consulting with Fire Station No. 13, the council allocated the donation toward the ATV and power lift.
"Anything to speed up the ability to help somebody is beneficial," said SKFAC Treasurer Frank Jurenka.