Thursday, December 14, 2017

Marine Rescue

Horry County is a popular tourist destination containing one of the largest destination cities in the United States, Myrtle Beach.  With this comes a large number of bodies of water including the Intracoastal Waterway.  Hunting, fishing and water sports on the Waccamaw and the Pee Dee Rivers are always sure to draw a crowd.  The tourist season draws millions of visitors each year to the area for the beautiful Beach's, golf and of course water activities.

The Horry County Fire Rescue Marine Rescue/Dive Team is an inland water rescue and recovery team.  The team is the largest in the county and covers all bodies of water within Horry County.  The team dives mostly in black water and some brackish water that covers ponds, rivers and the Intracoastal Waterway.  The team is capable of suiting six divers at one time from dry suits to 3 MM wet suits.  The team currently has 22 members - 18 of which are open water certified.  The team operates one 24' Carolina Skiff flat bottom fire/dive boat that contains a 350 gpm fire pump and foam pack to fight fuel fires on the water.  The boat is furnished with a 3 kw generator that powers 4500 watt lights that cover 360 degrees.  It contains a dive ladder for the divers to exit the water.  The second boat is a 14' Dura Craft used for small, tight areas within the rivers that the team patrols.  The team responds to a variety of calls from missing persons, submerged vehicles, evidence recovery, water craft fires and boat and jet ski accidents. 

The team began in 1991 and has continually grown ever since.  One of the teams newest pieces of equipment is an Underwater Side Scan Sonar System made by Marine Sonic.  Small, compact and rugged, the NEW "Centurion" Sea Scan® PC Splash Proof Computer System sets the industry standard for a high resolution, portable, self-contained, low cost sonar system. Designed with the Search and Recovery Community in mind, the system can be operational within minutes and only needs a 12 VDC power source. The software is user friendly and the daylight readable screen allows for easy target detection and identification. The NEW "Centurion" has been updated to provide state of the art electronics and connectivity.

Safety is the key word for dive team members. No member is required to dive if they do not feel capable of the task.  The team has an average dive of 15 - 20 feet.  The dives the team makes are considered cold water dives as the lakes, ponds, and rivers are under seventy (70) degrees Fahrenheit most of the year.  Visibility is considered poor and in most cases ranges from two (2) feet to five (5) feet in most, if not all bodies of water.  Rescue and recovery dive operations generally consist of down time for each diver at an average of 25 - 30 minutes.  The team is also equipped with sophisticated underwater communications systems so that the surface crew and the divers can communicate during an operation. 

The equipment and the team are not only an asset to the area.  On occasion, neighboring counties request our divers and equipment to assist in rescue and recovery operations through mutual aid.

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