Deputy Fire Chief pulls kayakers from icy waters

Burton Deputy Fire Chief Tom Webb

Firefighters may not always be at the station, but they are always on the job.

At least that’s what Chief Webb felt like this weekend. He was sitting home when his relaxing day turned into as night of rescue.

“I was out in the yard doing some yardwork and i heard the call go out,” said Deputy Chief Tom Webb. “I looked at the wife and she said just be careful.”

Careful wasn’t the first thing on Tom Webb’s mind as he heard the call for help go out. That call, for kayakers overboard, in the water.

“Folks that don’t live in this area or didn’t grow up in this area don’t understand how strong those tides are,” said the Burton Deputy Chief. “They look pretty calm when you are looking at a large mass of water but they are moving 3-4 knots in some of these creeks and rivers around here. That’s 3-4 mph, you can’t swim that fast most of the time.”

He walked out his back pier on the Burton river to see two people stuck and needing help.

“A young man answered me and I said swim over into the grass,” says Webb. “Unfortunately he yelled back cant swim.”

Webb, who has diver training through the Burton fire department, jumped in to action in the icy cold waters.

“I went after him because he couldn’t swim,” said Webb. “The closest rescue personnel couldn’t reach him and i knew with my level and training and ability I could.”

“The young lady had a life jacket on and had floated father away from him i grabbed her pulled her over and told her to hold on to the marsh grass. ”

“I put him on my side, told him to hold on to the rope and the guys did all the work, pulled us back over to the dock.”

Back to the dock and to waiting medical personnel.

Webb was wet and muddy, but potentially saved a life.

“Are you a hero?”
“I didn’t do anything different than any other firefighter would do with the same level of training and ability would,” said Webb. “And doesn’t do every day.”

But what Webb and all the other Burton Firefighters know is this proves something important to anyone who goes on the water.

“Someone that doesn’t swim not wearing a personal flotation device shouldn’t be the water,” explains the Deputy Chief.
“That’s the cheapest insurance policy you can have whether you are floating in the water or in boat, it could save your life. because you never know when you are getting a cramp or having a minor medical issue, that will keep you from swimming and keep you from dying.”

The two kayakers should be just fine and Chief Webb said if the situation came up again, then he’d do it all over again.

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