" A child's life was saved ... and is largely attributed to the phenominal quick-thinking of an Operator manning the 12th Avenue Bridge..."
G. Patricia Cantwell, M.D.Director, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
The FD Team has extensive experience (15 yrs) in providing bridge tending services. We are proud of the professional, knowledgeable and courteous bridge tenders under our care. We understand the quality of personnel and service provided directly impact the reliable operation of the movable bridges and the safety of the public.
Our experience of being directly responsible for the day to day operations of almost 60 movable bridges has given us invaluable insight into selective hiring practices for this profession and degree of responsibility.
Each bridge location has particular traffic characteristics which dictate special training. Florida Drawbridge also collects data monthly from each bridge that we operate including bridge openings, number of boats, total malfunctions, total down time, and accidents involving boats, vehicles, and pedestrians. We utilize this data to help us design bridge-specific training programs that focus on the current needs of each particular bridge. This along with incident analysis has resulted in the lowest incident rate in the industry for the last four years! In addition to the technical aspects of their jobs; we educate our employees thoroughly in appropriate State and Federal policies, procedures, manuals and handbooks, U.S. Coast Guard, and State laws applicable to their jobs. From the first day they are placed on active duty, our personnel are well trained and tested.
Florida Drawbridge provides a minimum of eight hours per year continuing education for each bridge tender. This includes Coast Guard and DOT regulations, bridge-specific concerns, malfunction procedures, special events training, safe operational procedures, documentation and reporting procedures. These classes review relevant updates by the Department, the Coast Guard, or the State.
Our statewide experience enriches Florida Drawbridge's overall understanding of different bridge operational issues and is incorporated in our training programs. The classes are scheduled in large groups and guest speakers such as the Coast Guard or State and Federal DOT personnel often join the class. This annual, group style approach allows for the exchange of bridge tender experiences and enhances “Best Practice Sharing.”
This type of exchange would include the time that a bridge tender on 12 Ave. Bridge noticed a vehicle flashing his lights and honking his horn trying to cross the bridge just as he was starting an opening. He immediately called the vessel and told the captain that he may have an emergency on his bridge, he asked if the vessel could halt and allow him to let the vehicle pass first. The Captain said that he could. We found out later that the car was driven by a man who was rushing his son, whom had stopped breathing, to the hospital and the extra minuets saved the child’s life!