New equipment on tap for emergency responders

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The City of Myrtle Beach City Council recently accepted state and federal grant money that will go to the Myrtle Beach Fire Department.

The money will be used to buy equipment for specialized teams who respond to emergency situations.

For example, the Urban Search and Rescue team will be on the scene if a building were to collapse to find survivors and pull them out. The Weapons of Mass Destruction team would be a group of firefighters that would respond if there were a major chemical spill or terrorist attack.

These teams are trained to respond to high risk and complicated emergency situations, and require sophisticated equipment. One example, a handheld chemical analyzer can cost up to $52,000 each.

Myrtle Beach Chief Battalion Bob Derr explains the analyzers are invaluable when emergency responders first arrive to a chemical spill.

"For the tax payer of Myrtle Beach it's a lot of money in dealing with everything else going on in the economy. But, with the teams getting it through grant money, it allows us to purchase the equipment, to train our personnel, and be able to respond to incidents of this caliber," explained Derr.

The teams were formed after the 9-11 attacks of the world trade center.

According to Derr, it's been a slow process to get the equipment they need.The last two years, more grant money allowed them to expand their supplies.The teams got $200,000 in 2011.

Derr says knowing we can financially support these teams should give people who live here some piece of mind. "For a city the size of Myrtle Beach to have these two types of teams, is a really big asset. Something for them to be proud of in their fire department, that they're able to handle these types of situations."

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Office of Homeland Security are giving about $190,000 in combined grant money.

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