HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – An Horry County Fire Rescue worker has been cited after an ambulance stationed in the Red Bluff community was involved in an accident on Highway 905 Sunday night while transporting a patient, according to an HCFR media alert.
HCFR crews responded to the accident at about 10:45 p.m. Sunday on Highway 905 at Freemont Road and found the medic unit on its side and a second vehicle in a ditch, the alert states. Crews quickly accessed both vehicles and extricated all patients from both vehicles. Three patients from the ambulance and two from the other vehicle were transported to a nearby hospital, and are currently in stable condition.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in this accident and we hope that they all recover quickly from any injuries sustained," the alert states.
Sheri DeBari, 43, was ticketed by the South Carolina Highway Patrol for disregarding a stop sign, according to Corporal Sonny Collins. The ambulance disregarded the stop sign on Freemont Road and hit the vehicle traveling down Highway 905, Collins said.
Cpl. Collins added that it is not common to have accidents involving emergency personnel. He added that SCHP prefers that the public pulls as far to the right as possible when emergency personnel come up behind them in traffic. If they are stopped in traffic and unable to move, he recommends they hold position, and the emergency personnel will work around them.
When an emergency vehicle comes to a traffic light or stop sign, they have to be able to slow down, so they can stop if traffic is coming, Collins said. They are only able to disregard a red light or stop down if it's safe to do so.
Battalion Chief Brian VanAernem with HCFR said that a safety panel is reviewing the incident and will make recommendations to the individual and/or department. He said the committee is usually harsh in its recommendations because safety is the top priority.
The Myrtle Beach Fire Department is holding written and practical driver testing this week for its recruits, who go through 40 hours of basic driver training. Emergency drivers still need to complete more rigorous, specified training before getting behind the wheel during an emergency.
"Knowing how to operate the vehicle under extreme circumstances, weather-related emergencies, traffic," said Bruce Arnel, battalion chief for MBFD.
Chief Arnel said safety is always the department's top priority.
"It's called driving with due regard," he said. "Just because you have lights and sirens doesn't give you the license to drive at reckless speeds or to ignore traffic signals and traffic lights."