Local firefighter deploying overseas to volunteer - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Local firefighter deploying overseas to volunteer

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A local firefighter is taking his training overseas, selected to be part of a counter-terrorism drill in Israel.

Born and raised in Conway, Steven Bret Holland is a career firefighter and EMT for the City of Myrtle Beach Fire Department. The titles and training he has under his belt are vast and impressive.

Holland is a Hazardous Materials Specialist for South Carolina Task Force 1, which is internationally deployable in times of need.

He is also a COBRA (chemical, ordinance, biological, radiological, and atomic) Specialist for South Carolina's Weapons of Mass Destruction Regional Response Team.

Adding to his training, in May Holland took part in an Integrated Capstone Event where he was in charge of all Hazardous Materials Operations during an exercise simulating the deployment of live anthrax and explosives by a domestic terrorism cell.

While completing his training there, he was approached and offered a position with the Emergency Volunteer Project Task Force based out of Washington, DC.

An invitation only event, Bret Holland is 1 of only 15 firefighters selected throughout the United States to be on the Task Force which will be assisting emergency personnel during a drill in Israel.

The name of the drill is "Operation World Edges" and is the National Emergency Services Drill for all of Israel.

Holland explained the need for the EVP Task Force was first realized following the second Lebanese War.

"Country officials regrouped to see how they could be better prepared. One of the things they lacked was not necessarily their abilities as a fire department, but with man power," said Bret Holland.

He says the firefighters are some of the best in the world,but the departments are understaffed.

"You have a population of 7 million people with only 1,500 firefighters. That's about 15 times smaller than what we deal with in the United States," he said.

Most of them are active military members.

"When the military is active, the number of firefighters goes down to three or four hundred people to protect an entire civilian nation,"he explained.

The drill will simulate what would happen if emergency services were needed in Israel while the country was at war.

"The first few days were going to be training with the Israeli firefighters on their training grounds, then 3-4 days going on calls with them,eating at the dinner table with them, bunking with them, the whole nine yards,"said Holland.

The Myrtle Beach Firefighter will not be getting paid for his services overseas, the entire deployment based on volunteer work.

To learn more about the organization, visit http://evp.org.il/

You can donate to his cause by visiting his viewer profile, or if you feel more comfortable, can give to him personally: sholland@cityofmyrtlebeach.com

Holland and his task force will be leaving for Israel on November 6.

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