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Posted: Mar 2, 2017 8:13 AM

Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington was excited to show off two new inflatable boats today at the Viking Drive Substation that were purchased with grant money provided by the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The foundation, founded by Chris Sorensen, and his brother, Robin, both firefighters, provided the grant of $19,501 to the Bossier Sheriff’s Office to be used to purchase the rescue boats and other public service/rescue equipment. Sheriff Whittington says the boats are exactly what Bossier Parish needs, considering the two major floods in 2015 and 2016, and will be a tremendous asset for members of the Sheriff’s Office Water and Technical Emergency Rescue Task Force. “We know that sooner or later, we are going to need them,” Sheriff Whittington said. “In the two floods in 2015 and 2016, we didn’t have them. Now we do.” Last year’s flood turned some of south Bossier Parish into a large lake, and the only way to travel to many of the locations, especially down submerged Highway 71, was by boat. “These inflatable boats can be unloaded and in the water in 10 minutes so that our rescue personnel can evacuate folks and checks on resident’s needs,” Sheriff Whittington said. Support from the community during the flood and now support like this from a private company is encouraging to Sheriff Whittington. “They’re running a corporation, and they certainly don’t have to do this,” he said. “But to know they are looking out for us and knowing things that we need in public service, it kind of makes you feel good that you’re not out there by yourself.” Jim Maxwell, area representative for Firehouse Subs, was pleased to see the equipment the grant money was used to purchase, knowing that it will be used to save lives and protect first responders. “These guys (first responders) do so much to help us, and we ought to do what we can to help them,” Maxwell said. “It’s because of the generosity of our customers and the vision of our founders.” Maxwell also pointed out that some of the money comes from their 5-gallon pickle buckets that they sell for $2.00 each, noting it sure beats the buckets ending up in a landfill. In addition to the rescue boats and two Yamaha 4-stroke motors, the Bossier Sheriff’s Office was able to purchase 500 Israeli bandages, 100 pocket CPR masks, an AED trainer to be used for CPR training, and a 55-pound “Rescue Randy” mannequin, all purchased with the grant money provided by Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The first priority for Sheriff Whittington and the Bossier Sheriff’s Office is public safety in a timely and professional manner. He and other emergency response officials are also closely monitoring the weather forecasts in hopes that this spring isn’t “Round 3” of flooding in Bossier Parish, and that the rescue boats won’t have to be deployed. “I hope we have a normal spring and we don’t need them, but they’re ready to go,” Sheriff Whittington exclaimed.