LAW & ORDER

Fireman helps woman in wheelchair stuck in rain


Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 7:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 7:48 p.m.

A Gainesville Fire Rescue crew came to the rescue of a woman whose motorized chair broke down during the torrential rains Tuesday.

About 2 p.m., a crew was on Buckman Drive at the University of Florida when members noticed a woman whose chair had shorted out from the rain in the middle of the traffic lanes, said Lt. Keith Saunders.

The crew — Lt. Jeffrey Schuhmacher, driver-operator John Cicio and firefighters James Brown and Joseph Gonzalez — blocked traffic, gave the woman a rain coat and wheeled her to a nearby building.

With the chair out of service, the GFR crew and a University of Florida police officer contacted a Regional Transit System supervisor and arranged a ride home for the woman.

"Our job is not all about fighting fires. We saw a citizen in need and stopped to help. We would never leave any job half done, including getting her home," Schuhmacher said.

Added Saunders, "Gainesville Fire Rescue seeks to be recognized nationally as a model of excellence by the provision of our services. That's important. It's cut and dry. That is our vision."

Record GEDs at jail

A record number of inmates at the Alachua County jail passed the GED test in 2010.

Jail officials said 66 inmates — 63 adults and three juveniles — earned a GED while behind bars last year, far more than the previous record of 43 in both 2008 and 2009. During 2007, jail officials said 22 inmates earned a GED, while 15 completed a GED in 2006.

The average length of stay at the jail for GED recipients is 40 to 60 days, said jail spokesman Gene Morris.

A partnership between the jail and the Alachua County School Board makes it possible for all inmates in the jail's general population who have not received a high school diploma to advance their education.

Interested inmates must first complete the Florida Test of Adult Basic Education. Those who test at or above the ninth-grade level on the TABE receive help preparing to take the GED. Those who test below the ninth-grade level in reading, writing or math receive pre-GED preparation to help them advance to the point where they can take and succeed in GED classes.

Smart 911 service

Dixie County residents now have a way of ensuring that emergency responders get to their homes more quickly, thanks to the purchase of Smart911 software from Rave Mobile Safety.

The software allows residents to enter personal information online so that it will automatically be available to 911 operators. Information such as photos, medical conditions, allergies, disabilities, special needs, home addresses of mobile phone callers and other vital rescue-related data can be entered.

"Smart911 provides us with critical information about callers, as well as enhanced capabilities to locate mobile phone subscribers that will help us more efficiently process emergency calls for service," said Dixie County 911 Director Chuck Elton.

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