NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The North Myrtle Beach Rescue squad operates entirely from donations, so officials said this month’s 63rd annual fish fry and barbeque fundraiser is vital as the squad continues to see more calls for service.

Community support has allowed the squad to continue operating for the past 65 years. The all-volunteer squad has a highly-trained water rescue team and also offers both basic and advanced life support ambulance crews.

The squad trains 365 days a year, and its services are free of charge.

“We woke up one day with a spark, and it’s something that you hear within the industry is a spark that just keeps you going,” said Daniel McGinnis, who volunteers with the squad.

The squad has roughly 70 volunteers, and that “spark” is what keeps them on the front lines.

“You are going to be there for somebody who is possibly experiencing the worst part of their day in their entire life,” McGinnis said.

The fish fry to support the squad’s efforts is scheduled for Oct. 21. It’s the first of two big fundraisers planned this year, and thousands of people are expected to attend.

“It’s at the Ocean Drive Elementary School here in North Myrtle Beach, and the beauty of it is, it’s $15 and it’s all you can eat.” volunteer Diane Woods said. “And we serve until there is no more food.”

Last year, Woods said nearly 2,000 people attended the event and they hope to have even more this year as the squad continues its efforts to keep up with the growing demand for services and to keep them free.

“Our call volume has been up by about 20% from last year, Woods said. “It’s increasing, and the reason it’s increasing so much is because the population of North Myrtle Beach is increasing.”

The squad works closely with other departments and agencies, including Horry County and North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue.

“They are there with us, holding the stretcher and making sure everything is done safely,” said Les Woods, an ambulance driving instructor with the squad. “It’s a real blessing to have such a group of people in North Myrtle Beach.”

The squad is also in the process of working with Horry County EMS to get a new “Vial of Life” program into the homes of those in need.

“What it is, is a way to provide your accurate and up-to-date medical information to EMS personnel if they come to your house, and in the event of an emergency you can’t speak and there is no one else there,” volunteer Lennie Veollmer said.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Vial of Life program, the program coordinator will be at the fundraiser to provide more information.

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Adriana Cotero is News13’s weekend evening anchor and a morning reporter. She joined the team in July 2023 after working in the island of Guam. Adriana is from Saline, Michigan, and graduated from Central Michigan University. Follow Adriana on Facebook, X, formerly Twitter, and Instagram and read more of her work here