ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Rescue Squad celebrated 50 years of service this weekend with an open house Saturday and Sunday.
Capt. Paul Lutz said the event was also an opportunity for the rescue squad to express its gratitude to area businesses and the community who have helped support the organization for a half-century through financial contributions and donations.
“We want to stress that we really appreciate the citizens of Hawkins County and everybody who’s helped with donations of time, effort, supplies to the squad to help us keep going,” Lutz said. “We’re grateful to the community, and we’ve had several businesses that have helped us with equipment and things that we’ve needed at that time. The people of Hawkins County, especially the ones I’ve talked to this weekend, are greatly appreciative of the squad.”
The open house included vintage equipment displays, as well as many old photos spanning the squad’s 50-year history.
The Hawkins County Rescue Squad was founded in 1958 with 15 original volunteer members. In 2008 there are 55 volunteer members.
“It was started by Sam Ross, a gentleman who originally lived in Bristol ... and once he moved down here he saw the need for it in Hawkins County,” Lutz said. “He contacted the Chamber of Commerce here in Rogersville about getting one started here, and they pretty much went from there. It originally started out with 15 members, and we have about five or six of the original members still around.
“They still come by and help us whenever they can.”
The Hawkins County Rescue Squad membership has changed over the years, and so has the equipment. Some of the early equipment was on display during the open house.
“What they had back then was basically sledge hammers, chain saws and crow bars,” Lutz said. “Of course we’ve gone to totally hydraulic tools now. The Jaws of Life, the spreaders, the cutters, and things of that nature.”
The open house display did, however, include a vintage early 1960s Jaws of Life — or basically a hydraulic spreader that is hand pumped.
There’s no way of knowing how many calls the Hawkins County Rescue Squad has answered over the past 50 years, or how many volunteer man-hours have been spent in the service of the county.
In recent years the department averages 350 to 400 calls per years and about 3,000 man-hours per year.