They were trained to wait for the fire hoses before confronting a swarm.
But when two Tampa Fire Rescue paramedics arrived at the home and saw a man writhing on the ground covered in bees, they knew they couldn’t delay.
“The guy could see us,” said Justin Thompson, one of the paramedics. “I couldn’t imagine just sitting there waiting for backup.”
Neither relished the idea of wading in among the swarm, but they swallowed their fear.
“He had a look of desperation and he needed our help,” said Sophia Cardenas, the other firefighter.
The pair donned their heavy “bunker” coats, covered their heads with fireproof hoods and went to get the 47-year-old. They battled for about three minutes, using towels and the hoods to beat off the bees before reaching the safety of their vehicle.
The man, who was cutting the lawn at 1224 E. Park Circle at about 11 a.m., was stung more than 100 times.
He was released after being treated at St. Joseph Hospital. He hasn’t been identified.
Cardenas was stung twice in the face. Thompson avoided the stingers.
“I don’t like bees but when you have a patient that needs your help, it’s not an issue,” Cardenas said.
She said the bee was identified as an Africanized “killer” bee.
The hive was apparently built inside a rotten soffit in the front of the home. Hours later it was removed. The smell of insecticide permeated the yard. The driveway was littered with crushed honeycomb and dead bees.
Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade said each class at the agency’s academy is shown a film about Africanized bees and told to use hoses to douse the bees away.
However, Wade had no problems with Thompson and Cardenas ignoring the advice.”They didn’t have that option,” he said. “They used what was available and brought the man to safety.”