Carter County Rescue Squad recognizes 70th anniversary with reunion celebration

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, October 17, 2018

In the early days of the Carter County Rescue Squad, a crew of 20 or more rowboats would comb a lake with ropes, dipping them into the water to search for people. Nowadays, the same job takes only four boats with sonar.

As the 70th anniversary of the rescue squad approaches, the current members hope to reunite previous volunteers together to remember the 70-year journey they shared serving their community.

Steve Murray, currently on the Board of Directors and who served on the rescue squad for 14 years, said this is their first reunion they have hosted.

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“This is to honor the people who volunteered their time,” Murray said. “We have not forgotten you.”

The reunion, currently scheduled for Oct. 28 from 2 to 5 p.m., is to honor current and previous members of the rescue squad. Murray said this will be a time to “trade stories and eat food.”

Murray said the rescue squad has attempted several reunions in the past, but they always had to either push them back or just cancel them entirely.

“This time, we’re having it on this day, no matter what,” he said.

The Carter County Rescue Squad has become one of the main testing areas in the state for new medicines and techniques other rescue squads eventually adopt, leading to a rescue squad Murray says is “second to none.”

The rescue squad has been working for weeks to reach as many former members as possible to invite them to the celebration, but the passage of time has made many members difficult to reach.

“You cannot just go to the phone book and look up cell phone numbers anymore,” he said.

Murray said many former members are in their 70s, 80s, or even 90s.

“We want to tell them you are not forgotten,” he said. “We just could not reach you.”

He said they initially expected roughly 80 people to respond to the invitation. Right now, they have received roughly 170 responses, and they are planning for around 250 attendees, including current and former members and their families. He said widows or widowers are also welcome to attend.

The rescue squad will have a number of activities for the reunion, including embroidered hats and “lots of food.” Mostly, however, Murray says they plan to swap stories and remember the journey they took as a squad.

“We also want to recognize deceased members as well,” he said.

Murray himself served on the squad for 14 years.

“I saw they were doing such a great thing,” he said. “I knew I could help. […] I knew that was for me.”

It was not all good times, however. Murray said shifts were long and demanding, and they were not paid for overtime.

“It was just ‘Thank you for your service,’” Murray said. “It is a rough job. It is not for everyone.”

Murray says the squad appreciates the continued support from their community.

“If more people come than we have prepared for, we will just get more food,” he said.

Those interested in attending the event can call Murray at 423-542-8421.

“Call the rescue squad, and tell them you are coming,” Murray said.