MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Safety is key at the beach, especially in the summer heat. Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue has a set group of patrolmen trained for water rescue to provide extra safety.
"We are here adding extra eyes and ears to the fight," said Lieutenant Jonathan Evans with Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue. The water rescue teams are out patrolling in addition to the Myrtle Police Department and the lifeguard services.
This year there is a trained class of 32 water rescue patrolman and Evans said another one is underway at the end of the season. "Our patrols go to the south end from sixth avenue south all the way down to the end of the state park or long bay estates, the central goes from that sixth avenue south all the way up to 38th avenue north and the north end goes from 38th avenue north to the tip end of grand dunes," Evans continued, "So we cover the entire beach with those three patrols, in addition to the police department and the lifeguard services, so it's a big team effort."
Some general tips for beach goers Evans said take breaks from the sun, get in the shade and be aware of signs of light headedness or nausea especially if someone starts to act differently. Wear more than 15 SPF sunscreen for protection and be aware of the rip current warnings.
"We're looking at the shore to see if anyone is having any trouble swimming and if it is a little rougher and the red flag is up we look to see if anyone is having any trouble in the rip current," said Evans.
The water rescue teams go through at least 16 hours of training and usually much more. Evans explained it includes jet ski training, 500 yard swims, a one mile run and 500 yard paddle on rescue boards. "We are trained in the Red Cross, USLA lifeguard certification, we are also ART certified which is aquatic rescue training. We are just trying to figure out how to better our team and again its fairly knew and we are figuring out as we go, and it's been good," Evans explained.
The Myrtle Beach Fire Water Rescue is one of the few departments on the eastern coast that has this sort of training, so Evans said it's a big deal for them.
The new equipment this year the teams use along the beach are the utility task vehicles or UTV's and the beach Colorado vehicles. The patrolmen will be out on the beach until September 15th. Evans said, "There's still people that come out and it's still nice weather so we just try to keep up with that because usually the lifeguard services aren't working up to that point so they felt the need for us to be out longer last year and we will do the same this year."