Squad looks toward future

Published 8:13 am Thursday, January 31, 2019

Participants of the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad’s (PEVRS) 50th anniversary celebration held Saturday at Fuqua Lower School paid tribute to the organization’s founding members and history while looking optimistically ahead to the future.

To view more photos of the banquet, click here.

Before the ceremony, participants enjoyed a meal provided by Fuqua Catering and sheet cake decorated with the rescue squad’s symbol.

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During the ceremony, squad leadership showed videos that honored volunteers who have since passed away and photos that PEVRS members took on the job. In particular they honored Kimberly Harwood, a PEVRS representative who recently died.

Several charter members of the squad attended the event.

PEVRS career members and volunteers were recognized for their services. The 2019 officers were also appointed.

Among those awarded were Zach Morgan, who was awarded the VFW Squadsperson of the year. Isaac Broadwater was awarded the Jaycees Squadsperson of the year. Jennifer Dukes responded to the most calls in 2018, at more than 600 calls.

Speakers included past PEVRS representative Tim McKay and PEVRS’ first woman captain Donna Groseclose.

Farmville Mayor David Whitus spoke about his experience with the rescue squad, when they responded after David and his wife were in a vehicle accident, and later when his wife suffered a stroke. He expressed gratitude for the squad’s dedication.

Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates read a resolution from the town commending the squad’s 50 anniversary.

The squad was formed in 1969. In its earliest days, squad members recall approaching vehicles waiting at intersections with buckets, asking drivers to donate.

Faced with a national trend of declining volunteer numbers for fire and rescue agencies, and increased training requirement for Emergency Medical Service (EMS) members, squad leadership spoke about looking ahead to the next 50 years. They encouraged exploring creative solutions.

Speaker Brian Butler praised the earliest volunteers for making the squad what it is today.

“Volunteers have created the foundation upon which EMS in Prince Edward County has been built,” Butler said.

He spoke about the impact PEVRS has had beyond Prince Edward.

PEVRS responded to natural disasters in Portsmouth and the City of Franklin during hurricanes. They were called to the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, though their call was canceled while they were getting on the emergency vehicles to leave.

PEVRS was also heavily present during the 2016 Vice Presidential debate held at Longwood University.

Butler said he was confident about the squad’s impact continuing.

“If there is a community that can come together to preserve something as valuable as the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad, it is this one,” Butler said.

Groseclose, a respiratory therapist, said on the first night she became captain sometime in the 1980s, they were called to respond to High Bridge, which at that time was a train track.

Several college students were walking on the bridge when a train came through. Some students jumped, some held on for dear life.

While some of the calls Groseclose responded have been unforgettable, she said the squad, its members and her experience have also been unforgettable.

She said technology has changed dramatically the way squad members and health care workers respond to emergencies.

“Our goal is always the same, to take care of our patients, to do the best we can,” Groseclose said.

Tim McKay joined PEVRS as a college student at Hampden-Sydney College, going on to become the deputy fire chief in Chesterfield County.

McKay spoke about the important work that the rescue squad takes on, going into the center of peoples’ worst moments to help.

He encouraged rescue squad members to be the best versions of themselves.

“What you do is significant,” McKay said. He noted that people squad members have never met are living their lives, and may not know that life threatening situations may be just around the corner. “They’re relaxed and they’re having a good time because they don’t know that one day next week, next month, or next year that they’re entire world is hanging by a thread … And there will be you, as your senses, your hands, your decisions in that very moment will be the difference between life, and longing, and hope and hurt. What you do in that moment will change the world for them, and for you.”

Squad President Nat Carter closed the ceremony.

“So what is the next 50 years going to look like?” Carter said. “We face a challenging business environment. What do we need to do to ensure that we’re not only surviving, but thriving, so we can continue our promise to the community? We serve a great community.