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ENGLEWOOD — Sometimes, emergency calls can become more complicated than expected.

Charlotte County EMT-firefighter Jon Otto was on a medical call 6:49 p.m. Saturday to Englewood Beach, where first responders expected to treat a 6-foot-tall, 230-pound man in his 50s who got knocked down in the rough surf and injured his leg. The man fractured his femur in his leg.

But that wasn’t the only call Otto answered.

According to one witness, “a kid yelled out, ‘Help,’ in blood curdling screams over and over. Someone was caught in rip current.”

Otto saw a group of six young adult men out in the water, one appeared frantic and panicked. Otto leaped into the water — only taking off his shoes first — and swam out to the men who were hanging onto a small skim board.

“They said they got caught in the current,” Otto said.

No one had sunk beneath the surface, but the men had exhausted themselves and did not have the energy to swim on their own back to shore. Otto said he didn’t feel the pull of a strong rip current, but that didn’t mean the young men didn’t feel the pull of a current stronger than their swimming abilities.

Fortunately, another swimmer joined them with a larger float that allowed them all to make their way back to shallows to where they could stand in the water, Otto said.

“Bring a flotation device with you,” Otto cautioned. “You never know if there is a rip current.”


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