First responders prepare for busy Fourth of July - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

First responders prepare for busy Fourth of July

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Emergency responders have begun staffing for the busy Fourth of July, a holiday many people spend on the beach.

The sun and sand appeal to many people living and visiting the area and adds an extra dynamic to training and response from emergency responders. The Surfside Beach Fire Department continues to focus on water rescue efforts.

“We train like our lives depend on it because basically our lives do and so do the lives of the people were responding to help,” said Fire Chief Kevin Otte.

Similar to rushing into a burning building, Chief Otte explained it is difficult for emergency responders to know exactly what they will face when heading to a water rescue. To be aware and to prepare, the department constantly monitors water conditions, including currents and tides.

With thousands of people planning to pack onto the beach during the holiday, Chief Otte and his team are planning to staff up.

In addition to rough waters, the team explained high temperatures can also pose a risk for beachgoers.

“The temperatures we've had the last several weeks has really played a great deal in someone getting exhausted really quick, not being hydrated,” said Howard Richardson with the Surfside Beach Fire Department.

Richardson said in addition to monitoring the ocean, the team also watches the waterway. He warns secondary drowning can be a silent danger.

“Anytime anyone is under the water for more than 20 seconds it can create fluids in the lung where you can suffer from a drowning at a later time,” explained Richardson.

He pointed out it could take up to six hours for the symptoms of secondary drowning to show up in a person.

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