HOW TO HELP
To find out how to help, call the Sequatchie County Rescue Squad at 423-949-2207 or Rescue Squad Capt. Cecil Nunley at 423-488-5068.
When most people encounter their local rescue squad, it's at a time of extreme duress such as a traffic crash, disaster or a search for a missing person.
But who are those folks with the helping hand?
For years across the rural South, most rescue squads have been all-volunteer operations made up of local residents. These days, Sequatchie County Rescue Squad Capt. Cecil Nunley says, they're better trained and have good equipment, but they're still volunteer organizations in times when it's often very hard to find people with the desire to help.
"We've got 20-plus members," Nunley said of the organization started there in 1968. Two members of the current squad are charter members of that first squad, he said.
"I'd like to get 10 or 15 more good members. Most everybody can do something," Nunley said. "We'd like to get some middle-aged and younger, strong members that are willing to take training."
The squad's 20 or so members aren't all always available for every call because of work demands, so there usually are just enough members to man the equipment for a call with little or no backup, he said.
Nunley and Rescue Squad 2nd Lt. James Martin are trainers for certain elements of the work, and the squad pays for new members' additional training, officials said.
And, rather than jumping right in, Nunley and Martin recommend attending a monthly meeting to see what the squad's all about and to fill out an application. The squad holds meetings at its building on Rankin Avenue the second Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. CST.
Volunteers must have a driver's license and no criminal record before they undergo training to drive emergency vehicles and use equipment and a wide variety of rescue techniques. Rescue officials say they would like to attract some outdoor enthusiasts who have experience in rock climbing, rappelling and similar skills that are handy in Sequatchie's mountainous terrain.
Martin, a six-year member, said the work is satisfying for people who like to help their community, and the training gives them confidence and skills to impact lives.
Besides the "rescue" part of the work, squad members also help the local Lions Club with Christmas toy drives and sponsor Sequatchie County's annual Fourth of July celebration, he added.
Nunley said a squad member definitely makes a difference in the community.
Most volunteers join "to help the public," he said. "I feel like I've been involved in saving some lives over the years."