Horry County leaders believe more training could cut costs for public safety workers

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County leaders want to save the county millions of dollars by increasing training for public safety workers, to decrease their worker compensation claims. They proposed this at the Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday.

“When you have law enforcement officers and fire rescue personnel working, they are always challenged physically, but it is also something we can address with consistent training,” says committee chairman Al Allen. In the last two years alone, the Horry County Public Safety Department submitted more than 2 million dollars’ worth of workers comp claims. Allen says more training for officers could cut down these costs. “If we can consistently improve on that, we can save on the backside on cost that is currently eating us up with our workers comp claims.”

Allen proposed expanding training for emergency vehicle drivers specifically, since many of the claims stem from accidents on the road. “With all of the smart technology we have today, smartphones, iPads, laptops, we have a lot of distractions out there.” Horry County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief John Fowler says, “we are a mobile agency so the chances of us being in a motor vehicle collision are higher, that does increase our risk.”

Allen suggested creating an incentive program to motivate public safety officers to be more careful.

“There are so many options out there that we can offer and probably at the top of the list is turning those workers comp claims and converting them into actual pay hikes for our public safety,” Allen said.

Fowler says even though most claims are not for major accidents, the fire department and other public safety offices could benefit from more training. “In this line of work, training is the backbone of what the fire service, police dept., EMS is about. Any time we can reinforce safety it’s going to benefit everyone.”

Horry County leaders will continue to discuss the issue at their budget retreat next week.