MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A new piece of equipment will be on the beach this season in an effort to help keep it safe.
The brand new Zodiac boat with an Evenrude Rescue Pro motor just arrived one month ago and is being kept at Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue's station No. 3 training academy.
Lt. Jonathan Evans said having motorized tools for faster deployment is key. The main goal is to help keep the rescue team and community safe.
"This is a big step towards that. I mean it's nice to have this in case we ever need it and we'll have to see how we will work it into our responses, but I think the jet skis are our primary water rescue vehicle because it's just so easy to deploy and get out there and get moving," Evans said. "But if we have a lot of people that need to be rescued, we have this as well, so it's nice to have,"
This year is the water rescue squad's third season and it will have just under 40 active firefighters.
"Because our water rescue team is fairly young it's taken some time to build up our arsenal of toys and tools," Evans said. "So last year we acquired our first jet ski. This year we are hoping to get a few more jet skis as well, in addition to the Zodiac boat here. Before that we really relied on our swimmers, and still do."
Evans said most of the rescues are 100 to 200 feet from the shore. In 2016, there were multiple drownings. Zero were registered last year.
"That was an effort between police, ourselves and the beach services, so that wasn't just us what we did, but it was nice to be part of that team and have the main statistic," Evans said.
There were more than 2,000 contacts with either beach ordinances or pulling people in. Evans said their main hope is for zero drownings again this year.
"I started with the first round of guys and to see it grow from where it was and everyone is still very passionate about this team," he said. "We want to make sure our coast is safe. We want this team to happen for a long time, so we want to do as much training as we can and get this new equipment to be there for our community."
The first beach patrol is starting earlier. The team will be out Easter weekend and will patrol through mid-September.