HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - More driver training is scheduled for Horry County paramedics, EMT's, and firefighters. Horry County Fire Rescue officials said the training is to reduce the number of accidents involving ambulance and fire trucks.
A 70-page report from the county lists in-detail the vehicle comprehensive and collision incident reports for the department. For the first part of 2015, more than 40 accidents were reported involving county emergency vehicles.
Scott Thompson, Interim Fire Chief for Horry County Fire Rescue said, "If it's preventable we want to prevent it."
Last month, the county started a new driver course for all staff that operate emergency vehicles. "We got in contact with risk management at the local and the state levels and developed a plan to implement the Certified Emergency Vehicle Operator course," explained Thompson.
The plan comes amid a surge in accidents involving county emergency vehicles. Five people were injured in an accident in March 2015 when an EMT driving an ambulance was cited for running a stop sign and hitting a car that was traveling down Highway 905.
An ambulance rollover accident happened in June 2015 when a car and the unit collided at Highway 17 Bypass and 82nd North.
According to the report, from January 2015 until June 2015 there were 46 incidents involving emergency vehicles. The incidents included emergency vehicles that struck a deer or another vehicle, or small minor accidents like a side horn scratch.
Thompson said the number is higher than usual, but he also says the department is responding to more calls. "Just this past week we logged more than 21,000 miles of travel in just our ambulance vehicles," Thompson said. "We're on the road a lot so the higher percentage you are moving the more you have a higher chance something unpleasant may happen."
Thompson explained that HCFR instructors received the training necessary to teach the driver course. He adds the course must be completed annually and is about four hours.
The class will be added to the 40 hours of training the employees must complete once hired with the HCFR.
"It is mandatory for all members, volunteer and career staff anyone who drives a vehicle will get that education," said Thompson.
During the Horry County Public Safety Committee meeting held on Monday, Thompson had to give an update on the progress of the driver training.
He said the training is helping those operating emergency vehicles. Thompson added, drivers seem to be more alert and are utilizing the resources to be more proactive while driving on the roads.
"We want to reduce our risk as much as possible," added Thompson.
The certified driver training is still in progress. Thompson said they are training all the staff for Battalions 1, 2, and 3. All staff should have completed the certified course by the end of November 2015.