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Myrtle Beach has four $61,000 water rescue robots. They’ve never been used.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The City of Myrtle Beach hyped up a set of four brand new water rescue devices last year, but it turns out the city doesn’t use them because they don’t appear to work.

On May 21, 2018, Myrtle Beach City Government announced on Facebook that the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce had bought four “EMILYs” for the fire department and crews had already begun practicing with them.

The EMILYs are designed to be remote-controlled water safety devices that can be driven from the beach across the water to someone in need of rescue.

The city had big hopes for the devices, adding, “The four EMILYs will be stationed along the beach this summer, ready to assist swimmers in trouble. Myrtle Beach lifeguards and beach safety personnel will have quick access to them this summer. The Fire Department purchased four of the devices with funding from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.”

A WPDE investigative report, however, revealed not only the $61,000 price tag but emails outlining the technical problems crews faced.

According to an email obtained by WPDE, “I attempted to use Emily number 2 today to advise swimmer he was to far from shore. Emily made it through 2 waves then boat would only turn to the right.”

The email, sent from Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue to Hydronalix, which produces the devices, goes on to say that waves brought the device back and the EMILY was left out of service.

Another email states crews tried three times to deploy an EMILY during a possible missing swimmer call, but each time the device lost connectivity.

“This makes all 4 MBFD boats unavailable to crews,” MBFR said in the email.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce told WPDE that they have asked if they can return the devices and get a refund.

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