Hoaxes, pranks strain first responders resources for actual emergencies

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 11:18 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 11:23 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) -- Emergency crews from Myrtle Beach, Conway, Loris and Horry County responded to what we now know was a prank.

However, whether it’s the fire or the police department first responders treat every call as if it were a real emergency.

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“It’s one of those things we need to figure out how to cut it out because it drains many resources,” said Captain Jonathan Evans.

Captain Evans said a school shooting call usually requires three stations to respond and roughly 25 firefighters were on-site at Myrtle Beach Middle School after the call came in but it didn’t take long for crews to realize the call was a hoax.

“Around the same time we got a call Conway High School had a similar call and then in York, Berkley and Charleston County that’s when we knew something else more going on with this,” said Captain Evans.

Myrtle Beach Fire and EMS were able to clear the scene after about 15 minutes while police continued to investigate.

Captain Evans said although the call was a hoax the emotions first responders feel heading to what they thought was a school shooting are real.

“We’re glad today was only a hoax because we never want an event like today to ever happen getting a call involving kids can affect you and we’re glad today was a non-event,” said Captain Evans.

Several agencies including the FBI are now investigating. They said “Swatting” is very serious because it puts innocent people at risk.

15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said there’s no place for jokes related to a school shooting and the prank is punishable with up to five years in prison.

“With all the anguish everyone had to go through I can guarantee someone is going to prison for this,” said Richardson.

We did reach out to several agencies involved in Wednesday’s hoax, but they either didn’t get back to us or deferred comment since this is an ongoing investigation.