After taking care of their home base for days at a time without taking a break, Boynton Beach paramedics and police officers have been deployed to help areas across the state that have been hit much worse by Hurricane Irma.
On Wednesday, four Boynton Beach firefighters/paramedics - Georgio Salame, Craig Kovach, Andrew Defilippis and Mike Landress, who is also the EMS coordinator - headed south to Big Pine Key.
And on Thursday, six Boynton policemen - Officers Dennis Castro, Barry Ward, Andrew Berben, Daniel Montoute, Zach Halpern and Sgt. Jon Kautz - headed west to Collier County where Naples is.
The firefighters and police officers are joined with several other agencies in Palm Beach County including Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton and Delray Beach.
All 10 men volunteered to go.
Police expect to be there three to five days. Firefighters expect to be there five to seven days.
“We did spend a bunch of time in the (Emergency Operations Center) running calls during Hurricane Irma but the Florida Keys is a wonderful spot, many of us love the keys and we just feel like we want to help those people down there,” Landress said. “A lot of guys have houses down there, they fish down there. Everybody’s probably got a friend or a buddy that visits or lives down there.”
The paramedics expect to shuttle patients to helicopters or hospitals and to take over for fire rescue teams already there who might need a break.
“They’re texting their families now because we’re going to lose cell service soon,” Landress said Wednesday. “All of these guys are fathers. They’re leaving their wives and young children. I couldn’t have asked for three better guys.”
Police will patrol the roads and help out at the gas pumps.
“There is nothing more admirable than selfless service. The heart demonstrated by these officers is a reflection of the culture we have worked so hard to build over the past four years at the BBPD. Our people are our greatest asset and I'm immensely grateful for their service and sacrifice. These personnel reflect the best of who we are as an agency and as law enforcement professionals. Our city and our residents are well represented in Collier County,” Boynton Beach Chief of Police Jeffrey Katz said in a statement released by the department.