CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – It may look like just another day at work for Horry County firefighter and EMT Beth Petty.
But it’s actually her first day back to Station 23 after a long recovery.
“Today is a really great, warm welcome back,” Petty said. “I have awesome crews so they’ve been really welcoming. They’ve been really supportive through the whole time.”
Petty was struck by a car while responding to a wreck back in January. She ended up in the hospital with serious injuries.
“I was thrown and ended up breaking my leg,” Petty remembers. “Pretty serious fracture that involved my lower leg.”
She was put out of commission for six months while her body recovered. She says it was a difficult journey, physically and emotionally.
“I didn’t realize how much physical trauma affects you emotionally and mentally as well,” she said. “A lot of tears. A lot of anger. Frustration. Doubt.”
She didn’t let it get the best of her, though.
Instead, she worked with fire rescue administration and took classes to earn additional certifications.
“Let me come back to my job better and stronger and with a more expanded knowledge,” she said.
Now, Horry County is putting additional safety measures in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Some first-responders are now equipped with portable speed bumps that slow drivers down when passing a crash scene.
Captain Bobbi Delp says they work wonders.
“They put the speed bump down and everyone slows down and then when we take it up everyone’s flying again,” she explained. So it absolutely makes a big impact on the safety of the responders on the scene.”
Captain Delp is in charge of safety and compliance at Station 23, and started brainstorming ideas to keep first-responders safe the day after Petty’s injury.
The speed bumps have been working so well she’s hoping to keep expanding the effort.
“Our goal is to hopefully put one on every fire truck,” she said.
Meanwhile, Petty hopes that drivers heed the warning within her story and proceed with caution when passing a wreck.
“Slow down. Stop. Move over. Whatever you have to do,” she said. “That’s somebody’s emergency.”
But most of all, she’s grateful to still be on the force.
“I consider myself very lucky and blessed,” she said. My time to serve Horry County was not over. I took a little pause for six months but I’m back and I love it.”