Law enforcement officers are challenged daily in the performance of their duties; they face each encounter freely and unselfishly while answering the call to duty. In certain instances, their actions warrant special attention from their respective departments. The Bulletin also wants to recognize those situations that transcend the normal rigors of the law enforcement profession.
Deputy David Bazylak of the Okaloosa County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) received a call about a distressed swimmer caught in a rip current 100 yards from shore. Several bystanders attempted to enter the water to help but were advised it was too dangerous.
After grabbing a rescue can from his truck, Deputy Bazylak ran down the beach to locate the swimmer. He noticed she was trying to swim against the current. Deputy Bazylak yelled to the woman to swim parallel to the shore, but she was struggling to keep her head above water.
With no lifeguards on duty, Deputy Bazylak, who had rescue training through his several years on OCSO’s beach patrol, removed his gear and swam out to the woman without hesitation. Deputy Bazylak instructed the swimmer to hold onto the rescue can and kept her calm until the fire department arrived.
The responding fireman paddled out to Deputy Bazylak and helped him put the woman, who was extremely tired and suffering from water inhalation, onto a rescue board to take her safely to shore.
The timespan from the initial call to when the swimmer was back on shore was about 14 minutes.
Deputy Bazylak’s quick actions and dedication successfully prevented a tragedy from occurring and earned him an OCSO Lifesaving Award.
Nominations for the Bulletin Notes should be based on either the rescue of one or more citizens or an arrest(s) made at unusual risk to an officer’s safety. Submissions should include a short write-up, a separate photograph of each nominee, and a letter from the department’s ranking officer endorsing the nomination. Submissions can be emailed to email@example.com.