The Newcomers Notebook: Grand Strand First Responders are Second to None

By Phil La Borie

The Newcomers Notebook: Grand Strand First Responders are Second to None

As a relative newcomer to the Grand Strand, I’m continually surprised and quite delighted by my observations and experiences here. As I keep uncovering news worthy items (or at least they seem that way to me), I hope that you find my discoveries relevant, interesting, and particularly in the case of this article, informative and important.

Grand Strand First Responders are Second to None.

I recently had occasion to ask for assistance from our area first responders. I was very impressed by their performance. Fortunately, the situation I had called about turned out to not be as serious as it first appeared, but I was grateful that they responded in such a timely and professional manner.

Minutes after I called 9-1-1, I could hear sirens and air horns rapidly approaching my neighborhood along Highway 17 Business. Then, just as abruptly, they suddenly stopped. I grew worried.

“Were they not responding to my call?” “Was I next in line?” “Where were they?”

In my old neighborhood in New England when first responders were called upon, they responded quickly enough, but pulled up at the requested location with lights flashing, sirens wailing, air horns blasting and two-way radios blaring. Don’t get me wrong, once they appeared on the scene they were as professional and as caring as could be, but their arrival looked, sounded and felt like a scene out of an old John Wayne western movie – The Duke and the entire Seventh Cavalry, complete with unsheathed sabers, uniformed buglers and waving flags were here!

My experience here on the Grand Strand was entirely different.

Since I had called 9-1-1 early in the morning, the Murrells Inlet Fire/Rescue team that responded had very thoughtfully turned off their warning equipment when they turned into our neighborhood. In fact, they approached our street so quietly that even the numerous dogs that constitute our neighborhood’s early warning system (seems they’re always on guard, perhaps even hoping for a zombie or alien invasion) remained silent.

Moreover, the young men (there are also two women currently serving in the Department) who answered my call were so calm and quietly assured that their confidence radiated throughout the house. They put our patient at ease and reassured me that it wasn’t as serious as I thought (asthma attacks often resemble heart attacks). They even moved the furniture back to its original position on their way out. I was very impressed and gratified to see that the patient was in such caring and professional hands.

Here’s what else I found out about the brave men and women who constitute our Grand Strand First Responders.

• The Horry County Police Department ( covers the 1,356 square miles of Horry County, an area larger than entire state of Rhode Island. The Department handles between 200-300 calls daily – a total of between 125,000 and 135,000 calls a year! The number one call is about residential and business alarms being activated. Very often these are false calls, and the costs incurred in responding contribute significantly to operational expenditures. The Horry County Department of Public Safety is implementing a program (“Cry Wolf”) that is designed to reduce these costs.

• The Horry County Fire Rescue Department ( responds to more than 40,000 calls annually.

• The Georgetown City Fire Department ( was founded in 1798 and would like to remind Sasee readers that one simple step can help save lives – remember to change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a year. A good time to do that is when Daylight Savings Time rolls around. Use that extra hour to check and change batteries.

S.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association member Michael Parrotta echoed the same thought. In a recent conversation, he told me, “Smoke detectors are extremely important as a first line of defense against fire. Most people don’t realize that they lose their sense of smell while they’re asleep. Very often, you may hear the sound of fire (items burning, such as wood), before you smell the smoke. That can mean that the fire may be well underway before you’re fully awake.”

Another thought about smoke detectors:

• If you’re leasing a long-term rental unit, make sure you and the realtor verify that adequate smoke detectors are in place and working properly before you sign your lease. Once you’ve signed a lease and that initial check is complete, you are responsible for replacing the batteries and conducting monthly testing.

• Here are some additional facts and figures about our area’s first responders:

• The Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District ( protects people living in an area of 45 square miles, and responds to 6,000 calls annually.

• The Myrtle Beach Fire Department ( was founded in 1938. Two years before the city was even incorporated. Today, the Department answers more than 10,000 calls a year.

• You can have your blood pressure checked at any North Myrtle Beach firehouse ( between 8 am and 8 pm. This service is administered free of charge.

• If you need emergency assistance, simply call 9-1-1 rather than your local fire/rescue unit. The 9-1-1 system is set up to save seconds in responding – valuable time where every second may count.

Much more information about our first responders can be found on their various websites. In addition, all units welcome your questions and encourage you to visit them either in person or online.

I believe the following statement by Lt. Robert Kegler of the Horry County Police Department sums up the attitude of our First Responder community.

We want to work hand in hand with our community to make it safer and improve your quality of life.

We are certainly fortunate to be living in an area that is protected by such professional, well-organized and caring individuals.

I’d love to hear any and all feedback about “The Newcomers Notebook” from Sasee readers.



About this writer

  • Phil La Borie Phil La Borie is an award-winning writer/artist based in Garden City, South Carolina. His work has been published in AdWeek, The Kaiser-Permanente Journal, Westworld Magazine and online at Phil is the 2015 winner of the Alice Conger Patterson Award offered through the Emrys Foundation. He can be reached at

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2 Responses to “The Newcomers Notebook: Grand Strand First Responders are Second to None”

  1. I had to laugh at the John Wayne reference. Your article was informative.

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