The North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad located at 1002 6th Ave S, North Myrtle Beach is one of the earliest rescue squads in the state, according to its history page. They are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, meaning services are provided to the public for free. The Rescue Squad was founded by North Myrtle Beach’s first police chief, Merlin Bellamy, in 1958.
“Merlin Bellamy lived a life of civil service. He began by serving our country in the Navy during World War II. His sense of service was so strong that he was willing to do any job necessary. He gladly accepted the roles of garbage collector, ambulance driver, and street cleaner. After the formation of the City of North Myrtle Beach, he continued as the new city’s first Chief of Police and then became the Director of Public Safety until his first retirement in 1979.” Merlin Bellamy Obituary (2012) – Myrtle Beach, SC . Legacy.com
In a car accident, a young man died at the scene of Nixon Crossroads Bridge just by the traffic light. It was clear to Merlin that he had to do something to help the community after hearing what had happened. He and another friend bought a 1950 Packard hearse from a funeral home in Florence with $200.00 donated to them. To provide care for their patients, they needed proper training, since they lacked a medical background. In addition to first aid instruction, padded splints, and oxygen bottle usage lessons were provided by a local pharmaceutical company. The Rescue squad initially served Crescent Beach but gradually expanded to service all of North Myrtle Beach.
“We are dedicated to education within our field of practice, the community, and our visitors. We maintain a monthly continuing education program for approximately 90 EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters. Our CPR instructors teach all over the Grand Strand to moms and dads, to Nurses and Doctors, to EMTs and paramedics, teachers and babysitters, churches and businesses.”
The rescue squad is not only dedicated to improving our community’s adult members, but they also offer training classes for children. The recent economic downturn has made it harder for parents to find a babysitter for their children while they work. Many parents work extended shifts and must leave their children alone with siblings during this time; these children are called latch kids. This type of family is specifically targeted by the Rescue Squad’s training programs. There are fire, safety, and security training opportunities available to children under 18 years old. Please visit the North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad website if you are interested in enrolling your children in training.
The Rescue Squad made CPR available to citizens in 1984 and has been providing free medical service to the community since then. Currently, the Rescue Squad is known for its water rescues using its Ocean Rescue Amphibious vessel, which is equipped with $30,000.00 worth of technology. It is one of the newest additions to the Rescue Squad fleet. Greg Richardson, a volunteer, says the boat is equipped with HD cameras, infrared cameras, and sonar. Using infrared cameras, the team can see in the dark by using the heat that comes off of the objects they are searching for. With sonar, they can detect shapes or objects. In the event of hurricanes, Greg said that the local EMS teams will frequently request that the boat be used for the safety of the people. Randy Gardener, another volunteer for the Rescue Squad says, “Our three missions are 911 response, water rescue, and CPR safety.”
In addition to receiving no state funding, the squad puts all proceeds towards new equipment and gear. The Rescue Squad encourages anyone interested in supporting their mission to visit their website. The organization says anyone can volunteer, even if you are not a medical professional. The Rescue Squad offers training and is always seeking new volunteers. If you have an emergency and need to reach a medical professional, call the Rescue Squad at (843) 272-3144.