MYRTLE BEACH — Please remain calm.
If you see something out of the ordinary this week near the South Strand Medical Center, the Conway shooting range, or the Horry County Public Works department, dont call the authorities. They will most likely already be there for the Weapons of Mass Destruction training taking place this week throughout the Horry County.
Horry County Emergency Management received a grant from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) through the Department of Homeland Security WMD Exercise Grant Program. The grant pays for special training for different emergency response departments across the state for scenarios such as a school shooting, a chemical weapon, and other high risk scenarios.
The opportunity is tremendous because not only are we able to utilize our resources in the county but include state level teams to coordinate together and work together as they would in a major event, said Horry County Emergency Management Director Randall Webster. The positive side of it is allowing all these teams to work together in an exercise so if the time comes down the road to do this for real they already know.
The training will take place throughout the week from Monday until Friday. It aims to test how prepared the emergency responce units throughout the state are for a disaster. Red Tail Tactical Technology, Inc., will conduct the training.
Horry County Fire Rescues Chief of Training Matt Smith was one of the people who worked to bring this training to Myrtle Beach. Smith said this will help each department work out any problems that might arise if something actually did happen.
What it causes you to do is it causes you to review your current practices and if those practices are working for everyone involved. If you run into an issue in training you can catch on to whats wrong in real life scenario, Smith said.
So, what are the specifics of the training? Smith said he couldnt reveal anymore details.
Departments such as the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), and Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) Team will all participate in the training.
Smith said that they have been trying to find money to host this training for a few years.
We have wanted to do this training and we looked for funding last year but we couldnt find any funding. We got word there was funding available through SLED and I met with them and showed them what we wanted to do, Smith said.
Webster says that the intense hands-on training makes this program great.
One of the bigger better things about this whole exercise is actually doing the training and bringing in resources and personnel with the most up to date techniques and skill sets. They are bringing in things they learned from Afghanistan and Iraq, so we are seeing an issue that the teams may face in real world scenarios instead of just looking at a textbook, Webster said.
The group asked civilians to participate in the event as well. Smith said they hope to have about 120 volunteers to play doctors, nurses, students, and faculty in the different training exercises.
Contact BILLY CROSBY at 626-0310.