Sen. Shaheen honors those who helped rescue Hampton Beach swimmersBy GRETYL MACALASTER
Union Leader Correspondent
August 05. 2013 6:56PM
HAMPTON — When a call came in to the Hampton Fire Department on July 25 about two distressed swimmers, firefighters in the department were prepared to handle it.
Last summer, each crew member went through a sea rescue training course paid for with federal funds. Soon after, Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop helped the department get better equipment for safe rescues, including wetsuits.
Firefighters Kyle Jameson and Jed Carpentier were the first ones in the water that night in full wet suits and with rescue tubes. They were able to reach the two men, who had been in the water for about 30 minutes, and help them stay afloat until the department’s rescue boat was able to reach them.
Police Officer James DeLuca, a longtime Hampton Beach lifeguard, also jumped in the water to assist with the rescue.
“I do not believe for an instant those two individuals would have made it in without the equipment and training they (the firefighters) had,” DeLuca said.
He said the riptide that took the swimmers out is one of the strongest he has felt.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, paid a visit to the station to personally recognize the first responders, those who went in the water, those in the boat and those on shore with an official Congressional Record Statement.
Carpentier said before the training they would have attempted the rescue, but it would not have been as well-organized.
He said they also had circumstances in the past in which crews go into the water and make the rescue but come out of the water with borderline hypothermia themselves.
Hampton first responders are responsible for water rescues when lifeguards are not on duty in the early morning hours and after about 5 p.m.
Carpentier said it was nice for the department to be recognized, and to raise awareness for how much the department does beyond medical calls and fire fighting.
“It is a pretty unique situation in New Hampshire compared to the other departments in the state,” Jameson said.
Shaheen helped secure about $4 million in training funds for first responders across the state.
She said the recent rescue is an example of how that is paying off.
Training is often an early thing to go in budgets, she said, and this proves how important training is.
“In the past couple of years, with all of the budget challenges our communities are facing, sometimes we forget just how critical you all are to the work of a community,” Shaheen told the police and fire crews gathered. She said the recognition was not just of the rescue, but of the work they do every day.
Following her visit to the fire department, Shaheen paid her first visit to the Sea Shell Oceanfront Pavilion, which was renovated last year, and also joined local officials at Founders Park to help honor the town’s 375th anniversary.