Published: Aug 27, 2010 11:24 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 27, 2010 8:21 PM EDT

LITTLE GASPARILLA ISLAND, Fla. - People living on a Charlotte County barrier island won't have to worry how long it will take for emergency responders to get them to the hospital.

For vacationers and the dozens living year-round on little Gasparilla Island, calling 911 often meant... you waited.

"They'd have to take the engine, drive to the boat at Gasparilla Marina, get in the boat, come across, and once they get across, whether its night or day, they've got to locate the home," Charlotte County Fire Chief Dennis DiDio said.

With no streetlights or paved roads, that was no easy task. Often getting the patient got to the Emergency Room could take an hour. So the island created its own fire and rescue operation in conjunction with the county.

"As we operated before, something would happen and we'd just get together and do whatever we could," Vice Chairman of the LGIFR Board Chuck Soderquist said

But limited resources limited their response.If they had a patient that needed to be transported, they'd have to do it either in a golf cart or a truck. Today, Charlotte E.M.S. commissioned a brand new, suped-up A.T.V. emergency vehicle. With this new wheels, they can not only transport patients comfortably, they can also treat them along the way

  
Bright L.E.D. lights will help them find patients, interior lights will help treat them, while tough wheels will take them places they couldn't drive before.

"We can get them to a dock and actually reduce the time it takes them to get to an E.R.," Little Gasparilla Island Fire Chief Chad Bradt said.

The biggest benefit of all?

"There will be lives saved out here because of what's been put in place," Soderquist said.

Little Gasparilla Island Fire and Rescue will meet with County Commissioners in September to gain certification to provide advanced life support to patients on the island.