From vehicles to communications technology, emergency medical service has been continuously evolving, and Scott County has kept up with the changes. To celebrate its rich history, the crew has planned an open house, live music and a street dance later this month, all of which will be free to the community.
“The public is welcome,” said David Gilliam, who has been a member of the crew since 1977. “The public are the ones who have kept us here 60 years.”
The early days
Scott County Life Saving Crew was organized as a nonprofit in September of 1958, with 19 charter members. Since the beginning, its purpose has always been to provide rescue and emergency medical services to the citizens of Scott County.
Though it was an all-volunteer squad for much of its history, the organization began paying some members in 2002 to ensure the station would always be staffed, Gilliam said.
He added that the crew was previously responsible for serving the entire county, until the Duffield Fire and Rescue Squad and the Nickelsville Rescue Squad were formed. Now, the Scott County Life Saving Crew is primarily responsible for the rest of the county and serves as a backup for the Duffield and Nickelsville areas.
Gilliam said today’s crew consists of 32 members, 21 of whom are “life members” that have served at least 20 years. Of those 32, 15 members are considered active.
Volunteers are required to serve a minimum of two eight-hour shifts per month and are responsible for cleaning and stocking the ambulances, among other duties. The crew also employs eight paid staff members who are trained to drive the ambulances or treat patients.
The crew receives around $65,000 each year from the county, Gilliam said. The funds cover the organization’s equipment, supplies and insurance expenses.
Interestingly enough, Gilliam said, the biggest moneymaker for the crew is its bingo nights, which are held Thursdays and Saturdays. For $25, a person can play 17 games, with a chance to win $100 per game or $1,000 for the last game, which is a blackout round.
“If it wasn’t for bingo, we’d just about have to shut our doors,” Gilliam said. “You’ve got these die-hard bingo players that just love to play.”
The crew’s 60th anniversary celebration will be held throughout the day on Sept. 28. Coffee and doughnuts will be served from 8-10 a.m. at the crew hall, located at 108 Park St. in Gate City.
Those who can’t make it for breakfast can stop by at lunchtime for hot dogs, chips and drinks. Gilliam said displays will be set up throughout the day illustrating the crew’s history and showcasing some of its equipment.
The street dance is set to begin around 6 p.m. just outside the crew hall, with live music by Retroville, a cover band from Kingsport.
“We did pretty much the same thing for our 50-year anniversary,” Gilliam said. “A lot of people enjoy that. It’s just good, clean family fun.”
For more information, call (276) 386-3571.