CONWAY, SC(WMBF) - Horry County firefighters spent today at the Conway Recreation Center Outdoor Pool, but not to relax. Firefighters were training to become rescue divers.
Horry County Fire Rescue covers you if you need help, whether it's in our waterways, Intracoastal Waterway, rivers or even pools - basically anything water related in the county limits, which is why more people are needed every year for the department's Dive Rescue Division team.
Each year, Horry County Fire Rescue holds a swim test for firefighters who want the opportunity to be a member of the Dive Rescue Division. It's training for current and existing members.
So if a firefighter wants to be a Rescue Boat Operator, Surface Support Member, or Rescue Diver, they have to get everything checked off a long list, which is a rigorous year-long assessment to prove their capabilities.
It's an annual process to do the swim test, and every year each member goes through re-certification for training and upkeep of all of their skills.
The goal is to have more first responders ready to get to you during an emergency.
Horry County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Mark Nugent says they'll always be trained and ready to respond, but if they can prevent you from getting in trouble in the water, it keeps first responders out of harm's way as well.
"We want to be prepared if something happens to them, but our message to them is for them to be prepared so nothing does happen," Nugent said.
Twenty-five men stepped up to the plate Tuesday, putting themselves through an exhausting water test to make sure they're up to par to save your life.
The training is not easy. On Tuesday, they did a 250-meter swim, a 50-meter victim drag and a tread water situation for five minutes.
During the last two minutes of the training, firefighters had to hold their hands in the air. which basically indicates their swimming endurance.
Horry County Fire Rescue Captain Andrew Miller says the training is not easy, but will be worth it.
"The goal here today is basically get out guys checked off and maintain our skills, we want to make sure the residents and citizens of Horry County are careful with swimming and water related activities. There has been an increase in drownings and swimming events," Horry County Fire Rescue Captain Andrew Miller said."
Right now, the Horry County Fire Rescue Swim Division is operating under a standard budget and updating equipment as it can. The County is currently looking at grants for dive equipment which it hopes to have soon.
Horry County Fire Rescue says they have seen an increase in drownings.