MBFR extra staffing changes will not affect number of people responding to calls

Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue increases staff for fire unit response

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue will now have extra staff who respond to calls do so on fire units rather than medic units, according to deputy fire chief Ian Maxwell.

Maxwell said this won't affect how many people are responding to calls, just how some people are getting there.

The minimum number of staff the department has on the clock is 39. Maxwell said this change just determines where those extra hands will go.

"Typically in the past when we had staffing above our minimum, we would place those individuals on a medic unit," he said. "On the fire suppression units, it will allow them to do things at significant calls such as fires, auto extractions. That extra set of hands on those suppression pieces is certainly beneficial."

Mark Nugent, spokesperson for Horry County Fire Rescue, said they handle medical units for Surfside Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Conway. HCFR has two ambulances within the Myrtle Beach city limits. This change would only affect the three city-run ambulances.

The minimum number of personnel on both medic units and fire units for HCFR is two, but could potentially increase depending on staffing levels, according to Nugent.

A section in the National Fire Protection Association's 1710 standard regarding EMS system functions states:

Personnel deployed to ALS emergency responses shall include a minimum of two members trained at the  emergency medical technician-paramedic level and two members trained at the emergency medical technician-basic level arriving on scene within the established travel time.

President of the South Carolina State Association of Fire Chiefs Chris Smith said in a letter to WMBF News that fire departments operate to meet the needs of the community they serve. The letter goes on:

"NFPA 1720, which is the Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Department gives the staffing standard for combination and volunteer fire departments. Each jurisdiction may staff and respond differently across the nation, but it is made on an assessment of the specific needs of the community and the funds that can support those needs."

"If they go to a significant event like a cardiac arrest or what not, they're going with additional units so there's going to be five or six of our members on scene," said Maxwell, "A medic crew can always request one of those members to ride with them to Grand Strand or any hospital for that matter."

Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue has two ALS ambulances run year-round and one BLS ambulance that runs during the summer.

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