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New numbers said to add up to more safety at walkways

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Visitors to Litchfield beaches this week might have notice something different as they approached their favorite access point.

All the walkways leading to the beach got new numbers at the beginning of the week. Walkways 1-15 in North Litchfield are now labeled 45-59, and 1-7 in Litchfield have become 60-66.

It’s a response to a request from Midway Fire and Rescue, said Paul McCulloch, recreation manager for Georgetown County.

“They had an issue where people were having incidents, calling 911 and saying they were at access 1 or 2,” he said. But the callers, generally visitors to the county, didn’t know the difference between Litchfield and North Litchfield, so emergency responders would be sent to the wrong beach, causing a delay that could be fatal in some situations.

“A tourist calls up and all they know is they’re at Walkway No. 3, so we end up sending resources to North Litchfield instead of South Litchfield and they have to jump right back on the highway,” said Midway Chief Doug Eggiman.

It doesn’t happen a lot, said Bob Beebe, a spokesman for Midway. Probably just once or twice every summer, he guessed. But it is a recurring problem and needed to be remedied.

Since there are also accesses bearing the numbers 1-15 in Horry County, 911 calls made from cell phones at beaches there sometimes get routed to Georgetown County, adding to the confusion.

The renumbering “will definitely make the world easier,” he said.

But whether the public will be understanding about the change is anyone’s guess.

“People always care about change,” McCulloch said.

Matthew Jordan, the county employee who put the new numbers on the walkways talked to several people as they used the accesses. Only one wasn’t in favor of the change, saying he had always lived by that walkway and wanted it to stay as it was, according to McCulloch.

However, safety concerns win out.

“What you call a walkway doesn’t change anything, and if somebody is having a heart attack, you wouldn’t want [emergency responders] to have to waste time getting to the correct access,” McCulloch said.

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