Cross-training benefits firefighters, police and community in North Myrtle Beach

After a recent officer-involved shooting in Myrtle Beach, News 13 learned the Public Safety Officer who was shot also works as a Firefighter/EMT.

Public safety personnel in North Myrtle Beach are cross-trained, which means Class One Public Safety Officers also earn NFPA Firefighter One certifications and the Firefighter/EMTs are also trained as Class Three Public Safety Officers.

This unique method of training allows the department to utilize their personnel in several different ways.The fire department and police department also gain a better appreciation for the different roles they each play in the community.

“It makes us a team,” said Training Sergeant, Aaron Best. “When we get on scene, whether we’re in police uniform or whether they’re in fire uniform and we’re in police, we know who we’re working with. With that, it makes us work better together.”

The cross-training program began in 1986 and Chief of Police, Phil Webster, says since he came to the Public Safety Department over 20 year ago, it has been very effective in this tourist town.

“We don’t require quite as many officers on the street during the winter time,” said Webster. “But it allows us the flexibility during those busy summer months.”

The North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety currently has around 50 people on the fire department side and around 80 on the police department side. But it benefits everyone to have around 130 people trained and ready to do either job.

Derrick Heim, the Heath and Safety Officer for the firefighters in North Myrtle Beach, says the only downside to this type of training is getting everyone in the same place at one time. He says everyone gets trained the same way, it’s just a matter of making sure people on different shifts receive the proper firefighter/EMT training and the Public Safety Officer training.

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