Surf rescue training along the coast to prepare for beach season

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WITN) – The Emerald Isle and Indian Beach Fire Department’s gathered on Wednesday to learn new ways to work together in case of emergency.

By the time Memorial Day weekend comes around, people are eager to feel the ocean waves and sun hit their skin. The Emerald Isle and Indian Beach Fire Department’s prepare for the beach season and holiday weekend with a surf rescue training.

“We are able to do a joint training with our neighbors,” said Chief William Matthias, Emerald Isle Fire Chief. “During the summertime, prior to Memorial Day weekend, we rely heavily on our mutual aid not just Indian Beach but across the bridge within Carteret County.”

The training happens annually and has only been around for the past few years. Since starting the training, Chief Matthias says safety along the beach has improved.

“When we get an opportunity to train together and rely on each other,” said Chief Matthias, “It makes the response that much better.”

Indian Beach Fire Department joined Emerald Isle for the training on Wednesday. The Deputy Fire Chief says this is a good way to learn how to work with others.

“This is a really good opportunity for us to work with our neighbors,” said Deputy Chief William Jackson with Indian Beach Fire Department. “To get to know each other and how everybody is going to operate during a call.”

However, it is not always as easy as it seems to be prepared and know what to do.

“Getting the realization in like ‘hey, it’s not going to be flat out here,’” said Chief Matthias. “You’re going to have a wave on top of a wave when you turn around on that jetski so keeping your head on a swivel is the most difficult thing.”

Beach season begins Memorial Day weekend and goes until the end of October.

“Memorial Day weekend really is the kick-off here for summertime along Eastern North Carolina,” said Chief Matthias. “Honing in on those skills again is the utmost importance to us.”

The beaches along the coast are known as the Crystal Coast, which is why Emily Stevenson says she enjoys coming to Emerald Isle.

“Since my family lives in Greenville, North Carolina,” said Stevenson. “This is the closest beach. I love coming here, it is really nice and I feel safe.”

The most important thing for the fire department and lifeguards to do in case of emergency is to make sure the person is safe and okay.

“You’re the first person to get to the victim if they are unconscious,” said Chief Matthias. “To get them prepared for the operator, to come by and pick them up. Working with them on different skills and techniques to them up on that life sled and get them to shore as soon as possible.”

During the off season, Chief Matthias says the fire department and lifeguards plan for the upcoming season. He suggests to look at the flag status before heading over to the beach and know the water conditions.