Squad celebrates open house


Technical Director John Burleson demonstrates the wireless capabilities of the squad's computers. The lap-top allows paramedics to record call times, patient information, and even medications used to treat patients.

By Lesley Hughes
star staff
lhughes@starhq.com

  Smiles spread across each face at the open house and dedication ceremony of the new Carter County Emergency Rescue Squad, Inc. on Wednesday afternoon. It would be wrong to say that employees and volunteers have been waiting for this building for over seven months, because, really, they have been waiting longer than that.
  The previous building was overworked and dilapidated. Sewer problems and structural damage played a hand in the decision to make the $1.1 million investment into the new building.
  Star Building Systems built the 16,300 square-foot complex complete with enough technology and life-saving equipment to boggle anyone's mind.
  The 15-bay garage holds the squad's eight ambulances, technical rescue trailers, Swift Water Rescue boats, a Rescue 1 crash truck, a pug, and a four-wheeler. The only thing missing was a partridge in a pear tree. A decontamination room allows for easy clean-up of hazardous materials, like blood, on equipment.
  Two sets of washing machines and driers are in the main building. In the garage, another set cleans materials and clothing before they are washed in machines inside the living quarters.
  The living area features five bedrooms, a lounge, showers, a full kitchen, and entertainment equipment. All five bedrooms are wired for cable and Internet.
  The building also features a meeting room, training room, and a computer data office. The ambulance and equipment bay is connected to the main office building through a breezeway. The office of Rescue Squad Director Terry Arnold also serves as a meeting room for staff meetings and training purposes.
  The facility also features a separate three-bay maintenance garage with one lift. The isolated building stores any tool needed to make almost any repair to any vehicle without the risk of losing precious heat or cool air. Arnold said, "Once they go in they can stay in."
  Arnold said the building is also designed to be an emergency shelter in times of need, capable of holding anywhere from 200 to 500 people, with the ability to operate without electricity by means of a generator.
  Chairman of the Board Sam Shipley, also mayor pro-tem, said, "The employees, staff, and management are extremely pleased to be in this facility. We had the groundbreaking for this facility in February. At that time, staff and the crews had to reside in temporary trailers. This is a state-of-the-art building. Now we are finally out of that and into something that is very nice.
  "As the state EMS director told us a minute ago, 'This is one of the very best if not the very best in the state.'"
  Carter County was one of four rescue squads in the entire United States when it was formed in 1949 by a group of volunteers. In 1951, it was chartered into a rescue squad. The first ambulance was actually an old Army ambulance, donated by Don Tetrick of Tetrick Funeral Homes.
  Currently, the squad has 38 paid employees and 26 volunteers, according to Shipley.