ST. GEORGE, S.C. (WCBD) – Dorchester County has received grant money to fund equipment for its water rescue team.
Dorchester County Fire Rescue, with the assistance of the county’s Emergency Management Department, has received equipment that was purchased with a FEMA grant intended to help build local emergency response capabilities.
According to Dorchester County’s public information officer, Tiffany Norton the grant funds were used to outfit ten firefighters in complete water gear, including full body dry suits, personal flotation devices, boots, gloves, helmets and headlamps. Norton said each kit includes rescue rope and rigging, and better equips DCFR to safely respond to emergencies within the county’s waterways.
During the thousand-year flood even in 2015, Dorchester County had to rely heavily on out of state resources, Norton said. Since then, DCFR has worked to develop a team within the county to respond to these types of emergencies, in addition to providing year-round coverage of the county’s natural waterways.
Since its inception, she said the team has responded to multiple incidents on both the Ashley and Edisto rivers and has provided water safety/rescue for several public events hosted on both rivers, most recently the Ashley River Adventure race.
DCFR has developed a special operations division, with eleven current members specially assigned to the water rescue team, that conduct additional training and exercises outside of their regular duties. The team conducts monthly training at Edisto River Adventures, who graciously hosts the team for training sessions at their landing on the Edisto River.
“The determination to utilize these funds on this project was based on lessons learned (and now applied) from past flood events. The development of the Special Operations Division of DCFR positions the County to respond safely and more effectively to water rescue missions in the future,” said DCEMD Director, Mario Formisano.