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Thoughts While Shaving for April 23

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Elizabethtown Rescue Squad closing up shop as of July 1, 2021 … Sad, but not surprising … The local rescue squad was organized in the late 60s or early 70s when state law changed the rules about emergency services … Prior to rescue squads in rural North Carolina, funeral homes provided the service, not because they necessarily wanted to, but because there was no other source.

Elizabethtown Rescue began with 25 volunteers attending training at what was the old Elizabethtown Baptist Church site, now site of First Bank. Instructors were primarily Dr. Pumphrey and Dr. Meinhardt, both local surgeons … Training was difficult, then equipment had to be secured, later a building was built (later flooded and was torn down) … No 911 system, members signed up for several days per month as volunteers … alerts were by telephone…

Elizabethtown was not the first such squad in the county. Bladenboro and Clarkton were already operating … with volunteers. Later, Tar Heel and Kelly squads were added, all volunteers. In addition to training, and more training, finances were mostly left up to individual squads to secure. Later the county participated in the cost, and added 911.

I was one of the original 25 in Elizabethtown … exciting early on and more of a burden with each passing day … Finances were always a problem, ambulances were expensive and training was required and never ending…

WBLA supported the squads with a telethon for many years thru 1995. A total for all giving exceeded $653,000, last report I could find in my files…

Squads always had staffing issues … Too much to ask a volunteer to give their time, constant training never ended and securing finances was too much and staffing became a problem, equipment was expensive and there was never enough funds … Finally, the county was forced to began a service, and rescue squads began to close

It’s been a good service to the community, but just a matter of time. And, for the Elizabethtown squad, time to close the doors … Sad, but…

One personal note … 2 members were assigned to each call … My #1 effort was to get to the building first … I never wanted to attempt to deliver a baby.

Sad it is closing, but Bladen is better because volunteers county-wide gave of their time and talents to provide a valuable service … Not sure of the status of other squads … Think most have closed…

Thanks to all who served as a member of any squad in the county and to all who provided support in any way.

“Volunteering is at the very core of being human. No one has made it through life without someone else’s help.” Heather French Henry

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart.” Elizabeth Andrew

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willis Nelson

robert g hester
rgh4612@gmail.com
910-876-2322

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