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Crews install new phones in downtown Myrtle Beach for emergencies, resources

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 6:28 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - You may notice some new phones in downtown Myrtle Beach.

The new devices are designed to keep you safer while helping provide families with resources they may desperately need in the Grand Strand.

The United Way of Horry County and the city of Myrtle Beach partnered up to install four emergency phones in downtown Myrtle Beach.

One is located at Plyler Park in Myrtle Beach while the second one is at the 2nd Avenue Pier. The remaining emergency phones will be installed in the coming months. Residents will have access to the phones at any time throughout the day.

United Way of Horry County President and CEO Blakely Roof said the phones are to make sure everyone has immediate access to 911 and 211 services. All they have to do is press the appropriate button on the call box.

One of the buttons will immediately connect you to 911 emergency services.

The other button will call 211, which is the referral line for the United Way. A licensed trained counselor in South Carolina will refer the caller to numerous resources they may need which could include:

  • Mental health assistance
  • Shelter
  • Prescription assistance
  • Food pantries
  • Diapers
  • Substance abuse

“[The] 211 resource helpline allows us to see real-time needs and what agencies are able to provide those services,” Roof explained.

Roof said the locations for the emergency phones were chosen based on areas with lots of foot traffic and where the organization sees a great need in the community.

“About 25% of our 211 calls come from the ‘29577′ zip code. We don’t know where in that zip code they come from because all the calls are anonymous. Because we pay for the phone lines, we’ll be able to see how many calls to 211 are coming from those phones. The good part about that is we’ll see if these phones are being beneficial. Then maybe we look at other areas where phones like this might be beneficial,” Roof explained.

United Way said the phones will be a huge resource for many in the community, including tourists visiting the area who end up stranded and those in the homeless population without a phone.

Roof said it’s important for everyone to know these phones exist.

“It’s really just public awareness and letting people know there is help out there if they want to get help, and letting everyone know they shouldn’t have to go hungry and there is a place to stay in the cold,” Roof said.

Roof credits Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock for getting the ball rolling on the emergency phones.

In a statement to WMBF News, Prock said, “It’s been an amazing collaborative effort between multiple agencies and teams to help our community. We are thankful for our caring residents and visitors and are looking forward to continuing those same partnerships to make a difference.”

United Way of Horry County’s 211 resource helpline is operating thanks to a grant from the Bank of America Foundation and Sisters of Charity.

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