Visitor raises concerns of unavailable life-saving tools at beac -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Visitor raises concerns of unavailable life-saving tools at beach

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Myrtle Beach vacationer said she's concerned after seeing first-hand how automated external defibrillators aren't always nearby at the beach.

"There was no AED for quite some time until the fire truck got here," said Kim Hollandsworth, who is visiting Myrtle Beach for the week.

Hollandsworth said she was looking out her hotel room balcony at the beach Monday when she saw someone was in trouble.

"We could see on the beach a crowd had gathered around and they started doing CPR. Somebody had gone down," she said.

As an EMT herself, Hollandsworth said she was waiting for the lifeguard to bring out an AED, which releases shocks to regulate a person's heartbeat.

"After the two lifeguard vehicles had gotten here, the ATV and the truck, they still did not have an AED on the man who they pulled out," she said.

She said she was surprised to find out Myrtle Beach Beach Patrol don't have AEDs either. 

Myrtle Beach Police said the vehicles aren't equipped with them. North Myrtle Beach Beach Patrol does have AEDs on their trucks.

Hollandsworth said she would like to see more AEDs around the Grand Strand's beaches to improve safety for everyone.

"It just saddens me and worries me because Myrtle Beach has a lot of elderly people that come here," Hollandsworth said. "The chamber's trying to bring more people here, wouldn't it be better to say that this is a much safer place?"

Lack's Beach Service operates at another area of Myrtle Beach from where Monday's emergency happened, but the owner, George Lack, said it's difficult to use AEDs at the beach in general.

"The machine is so safety conscious that our environment is extremely harsh and the contamination that we have down here i.e. suntan lotion, sunscreen, sand, salt water. All of these things make the AED almost inoperative," Lack said.

Lack's Beach Service does have eight AEDs on its trucks that can be used in an emergency, but the lifeguards are taught to do continuous CPR until first responders arrive rather than spending time trying to attach an AED, which might not work, Lack said.

"Our primary goal is if we bring a victim out of the surf and we don't have respiration or pulse then we're going to start circulation and that's done through CPR," he said.

Myrtle Beach paramedics said they have AEDs on all of their vehicles and they've successfully used them on the beach, but they appreciate seeing CPR being done before they arrive as well.

"The faster the CPR can be done prior to our arrival, the more heart tissue that's going to be preserved and saved," said Christopher Rott, paramedic/firefighter for the Myrtle Beach Fire Department.

Lt. Christian Sliker, of the Myrtle Beach Fire Department, said he's an instructor for CPR courses and he has been seeing more people requesting AED certification as well. He said more public places are adding AEDs even though they're not required to by state law.

"Some local businesses such as Costco, I've done their CPR training with AED and it's great to see this because early defibrillation is the key to success in actually saving someone," Lt. Sliker said. "It's going to increase their chance of survival."

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