MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Firefighters went deep underground Wednesday to prepare for something together that they hadn't before. Inspired by a Loris man trapped in a trench last year, three Grand Strand fire departments saw a need, and used grant money to buy new equipment to practice for an emergency you could be in one day.
Firefighters from Horry County, North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach Fire Rescues dug a big hole to simulate a trench rescue. Then, they installed different equipment to practice a rescue. Digging someone out from underground takes hours, firefighters said. Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Jon Evans said the exercise was about departments coming together to make the community safer in case of that emergency. A specialty trainer from North Carolina came to Myrtle Beach to teach first responders how to get you out of a hole that size. Evans said it simulates an earthquake or construction disaster.
Evans said the rescue last year in Loris showed a need for different departments to train together. They received grant money to learn new techniques to get people out of holes like that, if the worst should happen.
It may seem unlikely, however, Horry County and the cities along the beach are growing rapidly. Myrtle Beach spokesman, Mark Kruea, told WMBF News for fiscal year 2016-2017, $411 million in new residential and commercial construction occurred within city limits. He said $151 million was residential construction. $260 million was commercial construction.
More building equates to more construction workers in the area, making an underground entrapment more likely to happen. Thankfully, firefighters are ready.