INDIAN SHORES (FOX 13) - 911 dispatchers say new technology helped them rescue a Pinellas County man after his kayak flipped half a mile off Indian Rocks Beach.
Michael Bochniarz was fishing on a chilly day early last month when his kayak flipped. His legs became tangled and he was separated from the kayak, but he was able to call 911.
“My phone was in a waterproof pouch. Everyone should have one,” Bochniarz said. “It was my lifeline.”
Mackenzie Espinoza is the 911 dispatcher who answered his call. She says Pinellas County 911 recently became able to pinpoint a caller's exact location. The Rapid SOS system now gives them the ability thanks to newer Android and Apple devices.
She was able to see him, in real time, on a map.
“This Rapid SOS system was constantly pinging the phone so I was watching him drift,” Espinoza said.
She was able to relay that information to first-responders in the air and on the water. With hypothermia setting in, Michael was rescued in just 20 minutes.
“I still think about it today and I still get emotional and upset thinking about it,” Bochniarz said.
Wednesday he got to meet his life-line and say 'thank you.'
“I owe her my life,” Bochniarz said.
Mackenzie says its rare dispatcher get to meet the callers they help.
“Seeing him holding his hand it brought tears to my eyes,” she said.
The Rapid SOS technology has been online since last fall, Hillsborough County 911 also uses the same system.