At Tuesday night's City of Treasure Island City Commission Meeting, Treasure Island Fire Rescue Chief Trip Barrs presented awards to three members of the department for their work in helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida.

Treasure Island Fire Rescue Crew Members Recieve Awards For Their Hurricane Ian Recovery Efforts In Southwest Florida

At Tuesday night's City of Treasure Island City Commission Meeting, Treasure Island Fire Rescue Chief Trip Barrs presented awards to three members of the department for their work in helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida.
Adam Drooger (FF/Paramedic), Travis DeBerry (FF/EMT), Sawyer Keller (FF/Paramedic), Paul Hinebaugh (FF/EMT), Thomas Brennan (Deputy Fire Chief), Joe White (Lieutenant)

TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. – At Tuesday night’s City of Treasure Island City Commission Meeting, Treasure Island Fire Rescue Chief Trip Barrs presented awards to three members of the department for their work in helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida.

Chief Barrs awarded Deputy Chief Tom Brennan, FF/PM Sawyer Keller, and FF/EMT Travis DeBerry the Exemplary Fire Performance Award for exemplary performance during an incident whereby the individual acted in a manner to bring a situation under control with minimal collateral damage to persons and/or property in immanent peril.

Deputy Fire Chief Tom Brennan was assigned to lead a strike team of five fire apparatus in support of the fire departments that were impacted by Hurricane Ian.

Brennan was deployed a total of 11 days and accomplished a variety of search and rescue, humanitarian, and firefighting missions.

Firefighter/Paramedic Sawyer Keller and Firefighter/EMT Travis DeBerry volunteered for a seven-day mission to the area of southwest Florida impacted by Hurricane Ian. They were assigned to staff an “Ambu-bus” provided by Pinellas County EMS with an initial assignment to evacuate patients from flooded hospitals. Upon arrival at the staging location, they were assigned a variety of other tasks, including search and rescue, welfare checks, and delivering food and water to stranded residents in flood conditions.

Chief Barrs also awarded FF/EMT DeBerry the Medal of Valor, the department’s highest honor, for his heroic actions and disregarding the danger to himself while saving another’s life.

While assigned to perform welfare checks on residents in an area isolated by flooding, FF/EMT DeBerry noticed a person behind a flooded home that appeared to be in distress.

When he and his FWC partner Lieutenant John Martino stopped to investigate, they found a 70-year-old woman who had fallen into a flooded stream and was unable to get out due to the rapidly moving water and muddy bank. FF DeBerry immediately entered the water and grabbed the victim while his partner pulled them both out.

Treasure Island Fire Rescue Firefighter/Paramedic Joshua Torres is currently deployed to SW Florida and is supporting recovery efforts on Pine Island as part of a combined west-central Florida strike team.

On Tuesaday, Governor Ron DeSantis visited Sanibel Island to hand deliver $1,000 recognition payments to first responders in areas impacted by Hurricane Ian.

These recognition payment checks were mailed prior to Hurricane Ian making landfall but were unable to be delivered to impacted areas following the storm.

The Governor delivered checks to first responders employed by the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District, the Captiva Island Fire Control District, and the Upper Captiva Fire Protection & Rescue Service District.

These payments are distributed through the Florida Essential First Responder Recognition Payment Program which is part of historic legislation signed by Governor DeSantis to support first responders.

“We are proud of the hard work and selflessness that our first responders demonstrate every day, especially when communities are relying on them more than ever,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “For nearly three weeks, first responders in Southwest Florida have been working day and night in the wake of Hurricane Ian to save lives and help their communities. I am glad we were able to bring Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and Upper Captiva Island first responders their $1,000 bonuses to show our appreciation for their dedication.”

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Additionally, nearly 400 checks that were not able to be delivered through mail will be delivered to departments across Southwest Florida in an effort to provide first responders with these bonuses as quickly as possible.

Recipients eligible for the First Responder Recognition program include police officers, sheriff’s deputies, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and firefighters employed by local governments throughout the state.

DEO is proud to support our state’s first responders by administering the Florida Essential First Responder Recognition Payment Program under the leadership of Governor DeSantis,” said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Secretary Dane Eagle. “Today, it was an honor to present recognition payments to Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and Upper Captiva Island first responders. These women and men are working day-in-and-day-out to respond to the impacts of Hurricane Ian and help their communities begin to recover, while they are on their own personal road to recovery.”  

DEO administers the one-time recognition bonuses of up to $1,000, after taxes, for sworn law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), firefighters, and paramedics employed by a local government as of May 1, 2022. The 2022–2023 General Appropriations Act passed by the Florida Legislature during the 2022 Legislative Session includes $125 million for the Florida Essential First Responders Recognition Program.

Governor DeSantis proposed and the Legislature passed House Bill 3, a sweeping law enforcement recruitment and retention bill, which encourages Floridians to join the law enforcement profession and out of state law enforcement professionals to bring their skills to the Sunshine State.

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