INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — In the summer of 1998, Deputy Fire Chief Cory Richter was off duty and driving on Barber Street when he heard a call on the radio dispatch about a child found face down in a backyard pool in Sebastian.
The boy had fallen into the pool while his mother stepped inside the home for a few minutes. Richter, a paramedic for the county at the time, said he was only three blocks away from the incident and drove to the home.
“The early intervention is what saved the kid’s life,” said Richter, who laid the 5-year-old down and tried to resuscitate him. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
Richter did two rounds of chest compressions on the boy before the child got his pulse back.
The near drowning is just one of the many incidents Richter has faced during his tenure as a paramedic and firefighter for Indian River County Fire Rescue, spanning more than 25 years.
Retirement of Cory Richter
Tributes from fire crews poured in one by one over the radio dispatch Wednesday afternoon, marking the end of a career for the deputy chief.
The A-shift crew for fire rescue congratulated Richter, 59, on his retirement, effective Friday. Crew members said Richter “made the place brighter and smarter” and that he will be missed.
Richter, a Sebastian resident, said he chose the path of firefighting to help others. “I wanted to give back to the community and help people put their lives back together after an accident,” he said.
Two more tributes over radio dispatch from the B and C shifts will occur on Thursday and Friday, Richter said. The deputy fire chief will retire on the same day as his wife, Jane, 60, who works as the director of patient accounts at the Indian River Medical Center.
“We planned to retire the same day. I wouldn’t let her retire before me,” Ricther said. “She is excited. The kids are excited. They think we will watch the grand kids more.”
Richter held numerous positions at the fire department, working as a paramedic, lieutenant paramedic, captain, battalion chief, deputy chief of emergency medical services, assistant fire chief and deputy chief of fire rescue. The deputy fire chief also served as spokesman for the agency for about a year.
It was not immediately known who would take on the role of the spokesperson when Richter leaves.
Saving lives runs through the blood of the Richter family. Richter said his son, Cory Scott Richter, 34, is a chief flight medic for Martin County Fire Rescue.
Richter’s daughter, Katie, 33, works as an office manager for the emergency room physicians at the Indian River Medical Center.
Richter said he plans to relax, travel and teach a medic class for the Vero Beach Volunteer Fire Department. The volunteer fire department gives college students a chance to ride with fire crews to different calls while gaining experience in emergency services, firefighting and paramedics.
Richter said he will teach the class three days a month starting Nov. 10 at a classroom at Fire Station 3, located at 2900 43rd Avenue. The deputy chief said he’s ready to instruct a new generation of potential firefighters.
“We’ve hired a good number of them. They’re local kids,” Richter said.
The deputy fire chief set to retire Friday has 36 years of total experience in emergency medical services and fire rescue.
Richter said his brother-in-law Fran Carabello, who was an emergency medical service responder, got him started in the field as a paramedic in Massachusetts. There, Richter worked for a private company called Life Line Ambulance before he and his family moved to Sebastian in 1990.
Richter said he continued to work as paramedic for the county and then got his firefighting certification in 2000. The deputy chief began working as a firefighter in 2006.
Richter has won numerous awards for his work in fire rescue. As the chairman of the Florida Emergency Medical Services Strategic Visions Committee, Richter said he helped to write a strategic plan for all emergency medical service agencies in the state.
Richter also served on the Florida Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council for four years. He was chairman of the council for three years, he said.
Richter said the committee has oversight on all aspects of emergency medical services at the state level, advising the bureau on rules and statutes. Richter has won multiple awards, including the Florida EMS for Children Heroes Award, the Florida Injury Prevention Award and the Treasure Coast Fire Chiefs Provider of the Year Award.
With many accomplishments and experience under his belt, Richter is ready to take off the fire helmet and unwind. But, he still remembers going to work saving lives, including the child who nearly drowned in 1998.
“The kid made a great recovery. It would have been fatal had I not intervened,” Richter said.
Richter will now get the chance to “enjoy life together” with his wife of 36 years, Jane, starting Friday.