Employee honored for rescue
On Monday, May 25, our busiest Memorial Day on record, a City employee working temporary beach duty during the COVID-19 pandemic, helped rescue a young girl in distress in the Gulf.
Bobby Bland, a 36-year employee in the Public Works Department, had just stopped his ATV patrols and was taking a break when he heard a teenage girl’s cries for help and, along with another person on the beach, went into the water to assist in rescuing the victim, who is from Panama City Beach. She was about 50 yards offshore near the Fontainebleau Terrace and was struggling to stay afloat.
While the other person made it to the child first, Bobby said that rescuer was worn out and he assisted both people back to shore. Bobby said he had to act when he saw that the teen was caught in a rip current. Flags were single red.
“The current was crazy bad that day,” Bobby said. “The current had pulled her 400 yards down the beach from where her family was. I didn’t even think. I just saw somebody’s little girl was in trouble. When you hear someone scream for help, you just react.”
According to Lt. Clayton Jordan, who witnessed the rescue which occurred at 1:10 p.m., Bobby “entered the water without regard to his own safety and was in a position to make a difference.”
Bobby is one of about 10 employees who were reassigned to other duties after the beaches shut down due to COVID-19. He has been on an ATV helping enforce beach rules, including social distancing and no gathering in large groups.
Bland was recognized during the Thursday City Council meeting.