Guard Activation Hits Firefighters, Police

As thousands of troops leave for the Persian Gulf, a Beaufort National Guard unit is answering the call to active duty. About 100 citizen-soldiers are leaving their day jobs to serve our country full time. It's obviously a big deal for their families, but the whole community's going to miss them.

Among the National Guard soldiers from Troop B202 Cavalrry are those who serve and protect our community each day: firefighters, EMTs and police officers. They'll be leaving their jobs temporarily, and for the Burton Fire Department this means the loss of one paid firefighter and five volunteers.

Chief Harry Rountree says it will hit "especially in our volunteer system. We're heavily supported by the military community, so it is quite possible depending on what goes on, we could lose a great deal of our volunteer force." To make up for the loss, Chief Rountree is making adjustments to the schedule.

The Bluffton Police Department also lost an officer in this deployment. Now they too are making adjustments, taking an officer off the street to fill the school resource officer position.

"With a small department, we are dependent on everybody to have to pull their positions, and with one out, it affects us a lot," Chief John Brown told us.

At this point, National Guard officials say they don't know where they're going or just how long they'll be gone. But the Beaufort Chamber of Commerce says a long deployment could have a major impact on the community's economy. Most every fire, police, and sheriff's department across the Low Country and Coastal Empire has someone in the Guard or reserve, and the deployments hit places like Beaufort especially hard.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey,