Midway Fire Rescue has been in the water and on the beach for the past several weeks performing surf and water rescue training, honing skills that save the lives of distressed swimmers and boaters.
Making sure it is as prepared as possible for the upcoming summer beach season, Midway has put new hires and veteran rescue personnel through a battery of rescue-training sessions.
“We train all year long, but we make sure that our entire crew is ready for our busy summer season,” Fire Chief Doug Eggiman said.
Included in the training were rescue swimming, victim pickups, surf launching of rescue watercraft, breaker maneuvers for rescue watercraft, and distressed swimmer rescue.
Midway covers approximately 70 square miles of the Waccamaw Neck.
Eggiman said time is of the essence when rescuers are launching their personal water craft.
“Walking on the beach, driving on the beach, and launching a rescue craft from the beach are three totally different things,” he said. The department has a number of water rescue vehicles, and the members of Midway are fully trained on launching each one from any location.
Eggiman explained that each time a water rescue is called in, a team of water rescue personnel and two personal watercraft are dispatched. If it is a beach rescue, the rescue team must first maneuver the personal watercraft through the sand to the location, and then launch the watercraft into the ocean.
“Most people think that the actual rescue is the most difficult part,” Eggiman said, “but depending on the surf, the actual launching of the motor craft can be just as challenging.”
The majority of the water emergency calls that Midway deals with are divided into three categories: distressed swimmer, overturned watercraft, and good intent calls from concerned citizens.
Should the rescue team need something larger than a personal watercraft, a 12-foot Zodiac inflatable is on the ready at the Pawleys Island station.
The department also maintains a 27-foot Carolina Skiff equipped with a pump to fight fires on land or in the water at the Reserve Marina.