Horry County paramedic falls asleep behind wheel, crashes ambulance

Horry County paramedic falls asleep behind wheel, crashes ambulance

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The head of Horry County Fire Rescue confirmed that an ambulance crashed earlier this month during Wednesday's meeting of the Horry County Public Safety Committee.

At the meeting, Horry County Councilman Paul Prince asked county fire Chief Joey Tanner about the accident.

In a video of the meeting posted on the county's website, Tanner confirmed the accident happened and said that the paramedic who was driving the ambulance admitted to dozing off while behind the wheel.

Prince asked if it was the second 24-hour shift the paramedic was working. Tanner confirmed that it was.

"Anybody that wants to work their hours and don't want to work any overtime, you need to figure out some way to accommodate them," Prince said to the chief. "There's reasons why they don't want to have to pull 24 and then 24."

On Friday, Horry County Spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier confirmed the overtime shift the paramedic worked was mandatory. In an email exchange, she explained the need for overtime by saying, "Overtime in public safety is unavoidable due to their 24/7 presence in our community. Overtime comes into play to fill slots by those who may be on light duty, off due to vacation/sick, or vacant positions."

No injuries were reported following the May 2 crash.

According to Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the collision occurred at 6:40 a.m., on U.S. 17 near Sutter Drive in the Surfside Beach area. The ambulance reportedly ran off the right side of the road and struck a concrete wall, he added.

Collins said the two paramedics and a patient were not injured.

The paramedic who was driving the ambulance failed to maintain the lane and ran off the road, according to Collins. No charges were filed.

Bourcier said about any repercussions: "All accident information relating to any county vehicles are sent to the county's Risk Management office for review.  Following the incident the  HCFR Training Division will provide the appropriate level of training to the employee depending on the type and severity of the incident.

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