Forty years ago community members joined together and created the county’s Yadkin Rescue Squad to serve the people across the area. Sept. 21, 1973 was a long time ago, and lots of things have certainly changed, but the commitment to safety from the squad has not.
Squad members and thankful members of the community gathered at the Rescue’s building in Yadkinville Saturday to celebrate the 40th anniversary in style.
Pinto beans and gun raffles were the main attractions. Somewhere around 1,400 raffle tickets were sold for the rifles and shotguns, with between 300 and 500 people estimated to have attended.
Residents who turned out were nearly washed out. The rain that shut the majority of the Harvest Festival down early only fell harder throughout the evening, making the metal rescue squad building rattle.
The large bay doors that let rescue vehicles in and out had to be almost completely closed to prevent rain from blowing in.
Those inside didn’t seem to mind as pintos and other food were plated out. Food started being served at 5 p.m. with the main event, the raffles, starting at 6 p.m.
Assistant Chief Daniel Tucker and Jamie Dodge
Raffles were held one after the other, with around fifteen guns being given away through Foothill Firearms in Hamptonville.
Per law, no guns were transferred that night. Winners had to visit Foothills in order to collect their prize and fill out the appropriate paperwork.
The money raised from the raffles will go toward purchasing new equipment for the squad.
“We’ve got a couple of things on the list,” squad chief Melinda Vestal said. “We’re trying to get a washer and dryer to clean our turnout gear and other supplies instead of having to go borrow someone else’s at the neighboring stations. Maybe try to get some other gear for the members, personal protective equipment, turnout gear, helmets, boots, that kind of thing.”
Vestal has been at the rescue squad for almost fifteen years. Equipment has changed a lot in that time.
“Right before I got in we got the truck we numbered 909, it’s our heavy rescue unit. It’s a Freightliner. Up until then we had smaller, pick-up style rescue trucks. We’ve added a newer trench, structural collapse trailer, a search and rescue trailer, added more boats to our fleet, so we’ve got extra boats for when we do river rescues.”
The squad now has three boats for dangerous situations on the Yadkin and other bodies of water if need be. They also have ATV’s for search and rescue operations.
Vestal has also seen the number of members increase, particularly the younger rescue workers.
“We started a junior membership program about ten years ago now. It’s nice to see that when some of the younger people that have came in and now they are either officers in the department or they’ve gone on to be paramedics, police officers, military.”
The squad averages around 40 members right now, Vestal said. Of those roughly six are juniors.
The future looks bright for the squad. Vestal told The Ripple her biggest dream is to see Yadkin Rescue still going strong in 2053.
“I’d like to see us still in operation of course,” Vestal said. “It would be nice to us expand. We have two substations. We keep a crash truck in the Fall Creek community and the Hamptonville community. It would be nice to see if we could expand those. Now they’re just a one-bay garage, so it would be nice to see if we could expand those in the future.”
She would also like to see the part-time paid staff that are kept on staff through the day expanded into a nights and weekends position.
But there was plenty of time for the future. Saturday was to celebrate the first 40 years of a proud tradition, and to celebrate those who paved the way.
“We’re trying to celebrate what we’ve accomplished over the years and for what our charter members were able to do for the community,” Vestal said.
To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.