‘Getting there quicker is going to save lives’: Surfside Beach Fire Department becomes certified for advanced life support

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:41 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Surfside Fire Department is now an advanced life support agency with the same capabilities as an EMS crew.

This is an initiative that Surfside Fire Chief Rob Clemons has wanted to accomplish since he took the position.

“It’s going to be a game changer for us,” said Clemons.

Although the department can’t transfer a patient to a medical facility, members can now administer IVs, EKGs and certain medicines they weren’t able to before.

“Whether you’re a citizen in town, or whether you’re on the beach enjoying our beaches, you will have a team ready to respond,” said Deputy Chief Larry Carter.

Fire Captain Chauncey Kelley said the team is often able to get to the scene before a traditional EMS crew. The fast response time is needed, especially as he said a paramedic shortage has spread nationwide.

“With them being busy, with other transport units being tied up or coming from a ways away possibly, this gives us the opportunity to provide life-saving care,” he said.

Members of the department tell WMBF News the ALS equipment costs about $30,000 and the town funded it. Chief Clemons said city officials were immediately on board, knowing the benefits of the designation.

“To have their support, to put it as a budget initiative, and then for them to fund it is significant because they realize that time is how we’re going to save people,” said Clemons. “Getting there quicker is going to save lives.”