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Ocean Rescue gears up for summer season after recording 6,000 safety interactions in 2021

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 7:19 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - From saving lives to giving out simple directions, Myrtle Beach Fire Department’s Ocean Rescue team helped 6,000 people last year.

As it prepares for another round of it this summer, the crews are loading an extra piece of gear into the trucks.

Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue is going to be “shoveling” in some knowledge all summer long, by quizzing kids at the beach about safety tips, and handing out an Ocean Rescue bucket and shovel set if they get it right.

“That was my first time,” said Quinn Webb as he and his family packed up to leave the beach. “And this is my first time holding a seashell.”

Webb had plenty of firsts to scratch off the list on his first beach trip ever while his family is visiting from New York.

For Webb, the best part was the water.

“The water is better than the sand because you can scoop stuff in it and swim in, but you can’t swim in sand,” said Webb.

Ocean Rescue recognizes plenty of kids feel the same way, which is why they’ve come up with a new way to make sure Webb remembers to stay safe while he’s swimming.

“As we interact with the children, we quiz them on the tides or what the weather conditions are, and if they know the answer, we’ll give them a bucket or a little treat,” said Ocean Rescue Battalion Chief Brian Mitchell.

$5 Emporium donated hundreds of sand buckets so the department could hand them out all summer long to start instilling those safety principles in kids early.

The Ocean Rescue team trained all offseason long and managed to be certified as an aquatic rescue response team by the U.S. Lifesaving Association.

“It’s a certification for non-lifeguarding agencies to let us know the training we’re doing is correct and our condition and everything else is in line with their protocols,” said Mitchell.

It’s time to put that certification to work - Ocean Rescue already rolled out two patrols around Easter, with another launching this weekend and a fourth one hitting the beach by Memorial Day.

That means kids like Webb will have plenty of opportunities to get their hands on one of these snazzy new buckets.

The Ocean Rescue team doesn’t expect people to know everything going on at the beach, but if there’s one tip they really want to drive home, it’s to use the eye test.

Look out at that water, and if it doesn’t look safe, then don’t go in.

Mitchell also wants to remind folks to check the flags for water conditions before getting in, and note what avenue they’re on in case they need to call for help.

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