The Ashe County Rescue Squad celebrated its 50th anniversary Sunday evening to recognize all of the accomplishments of the rescue squad since its inception.
“I would like to thank each and every squad member for your dedication,” said ACRS Capt. Ricky Roark.
Roark was one of several speakers to address the crowd gathered to honor the rescue squad. Another member, A.B. Weaver, a retired charter member who was among the first members of the Ashe County Rescue Squad, gave an eloquent speech to the crowd.
According to Weaver, the Ashe County Rescue Squad has come a long way since its humble beginning.
“We gathered in 1962 (a group of men from West Jefferson) and made a decision that we needed a rescue squad,” said Weaver.
Weaver laughed when he said “we contacted the Red Cross for training, spent 14 nights in training, and then they turned us loose on the people.”
The rescue squad currently has 31 members on its roster and a wealth of equipment, which includes two ambulances, three fully-equipped crash trucks, and two motorized boats.
“I would never have dreamed the rescue squad would become what it is today. Many people don’t know the rescue squad here in Ashe County is one of the best squads in North Carolina,” said Weaver.
Weaver also said the current members of the Ashe County Rescue Squad show their deep dedication by constantly training to improve.
All of the work is on a strictly volunteer basis, and yet, many members of the rescue squad have received medical certifications like EMT, EMT-1 and EMT-Paramedic.
The Ashe County Rescue Squad has received several honors during the last 50 years.
For example, in 1991, North Carolina awarded the Ashe County Rescue Squad “Rescue of the Year Award” for a difficult rescue that took place in 1990. On Oct. 29 of that year, the Ashe County Rescue Squad successfully recovered a family of three adults and a 3-year-old child from a 300 foot high cliff after they rolled down the embankment in their car.
Weaver said the most important aspect of the rescue squad is how it’s deeply tied to the community.
The rescue squad was born from an idea that the county needed a volunteer organization to help those in need during emergencies. After operating an underfunded organization for several years, the rescue squad drew public attention for its efforts and the public began donating money to the group.
“I’ve noticed the county is very supportive of of the rescue squad, and in turn, the rescue squad supports the community,” said Weaver.
Other speakers at the event included 1st Lt. Kenneth Patrick, President of the Board and 2nd Lt. Robert Poe, N.C. Association of Rescue & EMS (NCAREMS) Executive Director Gordon Joyner, and NCAREMS Area 10 Director Bill Henderson.