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Man says a civic-minded 'thank you' to brother's rescuers

Oldsmar Fire Rescue saved his brother's life. In return, he plans to raise money for a rescue truck.

By NORA KOCH
Published June 6, 2004

OLDSMAR - Minutes after James Pantle collapsed in cardiac arrest on the floor of his brother's business office in November 2001, rescue workers arrived and used a defibrillator to bring him back to life.

Today Pantle, now 47, has a normal life. And his family is extremely grateful to his rescuers from Oldsmar Fire Rescue.

So grateful, in fact, that his brother and sister-in-law, Stephen and Susanne Pantle, have pledged to raise $160,000 to buy and equip a new rescue truck for the department.

"Until something where you need them at your home or business, you just take this all for granted," said Steve Pantle, who has lived in Oldsmar for 15 years and owns an aerospace metal finishing business there. In 1998, lightning struck and started a fire inside his business. Firefighters quickly put out the fire, and Pantle said, saved his livelihood.

Earlier this year, Steve Pantle read in the Chamber of Commerce's newspaper that the department needed a new truck. So the 39-year-old father called Mayor Jerry Beverland to ask how he could make that happen.

Pantle decided he would find a way to raise the money for the truck.

Along with Beverland, Pantle has drafted a letter outlining his mission, and plans to go door to door in Oldsmar's business community to ask for donations. The city has set up a separate bank account to collect the donations for the truck.

Oldsmar Fire Rescue Chief Scott McGuff is bowled over by the Pantles' offer, which he said is a bit beyond the usual show of appreciation for the department.

"Some people never ever talk to us again, some say thank you, some bake us cookies," McGuff said. "They want to go out and raise us $160,000. That's pretty amazing when you think about it."

The Advanced Life Support vehicle, which would dispatch from the fire station on Pine Avenue N, would be equipped with about $30,000 in medical rescue equipment and supplies, including a defibrillator, a heart monitor and a stretcher.

Currently, the department carries that equipment on its main fire engine. A new truck could be a boon for the department, McGuff said, because it would separate the EMS services from the fire engine. Under the current setup, if the engine is out at a medical call and receives a fire call, or vice versa, the department often has to depend on another department to respond.

The fire rescue department has been eyeing a new rescue truck for at least two years, McGuff said, but thus far there haven't been budgeted funds to pay for the truck itself, or the two new positions that would staff it.

If the Pantles can raise enough to buy the truck, Beverland said the city would commit to staffing it.

Already the account has $5,000 - half from Mears Park Business Association, the business park where Pantle keeps shop, and half from Pantle. He plans to approach other local businesses in person to ask for more. Beverland has pledged $1,000, and they've heard from civic groups and individuals who are willing to collect on their own.

"It's about putting the vehicle in this building and on the road," Pantle said. "If I had the money I would write a check."

Steve Pantle knows, though, that he has a major bill ahead of him.

"He's sitting here because of them," Pantle said, pointing at his older brother. "So it's not a lot of money."

- Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report. Nora Koch can be reached at 727 771-4304 or nkoch@sptimes.com

TO HELP

Donations to help Stephen and Susanne Pantle raise money for a new rescue truck for Oldsmar Fire Rescue can be made payable to the City of Oldsmar and mailed to Administrative Services, Finance Division, City of Oldsmar, 100 State St. W, Oldsmar, FL 34677.

[Last modified June 5, 2004, 23:52:18]


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