As our life progresses, we never think of ourselves as not being able to do all the things we used to do in our younger life.

As our life progresses, we never think of ourselves as not being able to do all the things we used to do in our younger life.

Emergency personnel have a driving force to help others in pain or in need of their assistance. They never stop think about themselves or what could happen to them while performing their skills, and are always ready to step up to the occasion.

On March 31, I found myself in need of their special skills.

I was fishing alone on Shoal River about one-quarter mile south of Dugan boat ramp on South 85 outside Crestview when my boat began to take on water and it sank.

When I realized there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to save the boat, I contacted 9-1-1 with my cell phone. Angel, the operator, answered my call.  She was very calm and professional, even though I was beginning to panic. She asked pertinent questions  with a reassuring voice so she would know where to send help.

One of the things I remember most is she told me she would not leave me, that she would stay with me on the phone until help arrived. She advised me she had help coming.

When the boat could stay afloat no longer, it rolled completely over and threw me into the river. I could not swim and keep my cell phone above the water, so I had to drop it, and that is the last time I was able to communicate with Angel. I barely made it to the end of a sandbar and was able to pull myself up onto it.

Time passed, and a boat operated by North Okaloosa Fire and Rescue rounded the corner. I waved to let them know I was the one they were looking for and I was in need of their services.

On board the rescue boat were EMTs and paramedics. When they arrived, I was shivering very hard and had a bluish tint to my skin. They loaded me into the rescue boat and transported me back to the boat landing.

I was placed in the capable hands of Kayla Dubois and Stacey Mennick, Medic 3. They immediately wrapped me in warm blankets and placed hand warmers under my armpit to get my temperature back up.

In the meantime, Lt. Mark Hollinhead and Officer James Rockwell, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, went with North Okaloosa Fire and Rescue to attempt to upright my boat and retrieve some of my belongings that floated away. Approximately 45 minutes passed and they returned pulling my boat.

What words do you use to thank individuals who place their safety aside to help someone else?

"Thank you" seems so trivial, but it's the only thing I can come up with.

As I lay down in my bed that night, I finally got warm. My mind reeled at how close of a call I had that day, but because of God and dedicated individuals, I lived to see another day.

My deepest thanks to: Angel, Dubois and Mennick, Hollinhead and Rockwell, North Okaloosa Fire and Rescue and United 83 - Deputy Fire Chief Danny L. Worrells, Chief Ed Cutler and Jonathan Flowers, Tomas Gracia and Sean O'Brien.

I do hope I have not overlooked anyone having to do with my rescue, but thank God we have people like all of you.

William Larry "Doc" Cox lives in Crestview.

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