NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Warmer months means more beachgoers. The North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad is preparing to start training to keep you safe this summer. They're now recruiting volunteers to help save lives.
The North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad will be hosting a general membership meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Rescue Squad station on 1006 6th Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach. They're accepting both EMS or water rescue volunteers.
Captain of the North Myrtle Beach Water Rescue Team, Christian Lara, said the enrollment is open to anyone over the age of 18. Positions are also open for volunteers who might not be able to go into the water, such as shore personnel. In May, new recruits will begin training. Members will go through rookie school, which spans over 15 hours, and they'll train on how to drive the boat and make water rescues.
The rescue squad holds monthly training sessions for all current members. Lara said they plan to start their new paddle board training, and are in the process of ordering a new flat bottom boat to gear up for hurricane season.
Lara said last year, they had a great turnout and hope to continue. Although they are stationed in North Myrtle Beach, they serve throughout the coast.
"A lot of people play within the district lines, and we are as a volunteer kind of a good resource that people can call for that would go all the way down there. We're mainly up here for the people in North Myrtle Beach who we serve all the time, but were the constant primary. But for the most part a very useful tool, our boat, is significantly different than everybody else's boat around the area. Horry County and North Myrtle Beach can use it because it's smaller and you can get into more places. Horry County has a boat too, it's a big boat, and they can go deep into the ocean and down the waterway and can save a lot of people. But if somebody is down in the river, you know, our boat is much more suited to get to tighter access," said Lara.
Lara also said last year, there were less drowning incidents. But unfortunately, it's something that happens more often in a beach town. He said children can be under water and drown within just 30 seconds, and for adults, it's 90 seconds.
Lara said life vests are the best way to keep your child safe from inhaling or swallowing water. Symptoms like bloated stomachs can happen if you swallow too much water. Inhaling ocean water will drown your body from the inside. Officials say it only takes a small amount of water, and if you wait too long to seek treatment, things can turn deadly. The biggest problem is symptoms might not show up right away and can range from extreme fatigue to coughing.
Lara said he's proud of the work the volunteers of the rescue team have put in.
"We've never missed a call. We're hundred percent volunteers and still haven't missed a call, so that's really a step up. So, we want to keep that going because when you call for us, we want you to know that we're coming even though we are volunteers, we're still going to drop everything we're doing. We're coming to help you," said Lara.