EMERGENCY & RESCUE SQUAD, INC.
A Note from our Judge Executive
Floyd County Judge Executive and former Squad member, R.D. "Doc" Marshall... "In 1958, when School bus tragedy occurred we did not have the means to recover and do the things that needed to be done, but some 50 years later we do have those means."
The equipment inventory consists of seven unit trucks ranging in model years from 1987 to 1999 with composite mileage of nearly 446,000. The Squad Captain’s greatest fear is that the team will arrive on scene and not have been able to arrive with proper equipment because of hauling restrictions we now have and the needed apparatus will not reach the accident site.
Response time is of the utmost importance and, ultimately, may determine whether a victim survives. The physical challenges of the coverage area demand the use of equipment that is reliable and has the capability to maneuver through the rugged terrain.
Having reliable, first response equipment, the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad can meet its commitment to providing basic and advanced life support services on demand, twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week without charge to the recipients of the services.
As parents, relatives and community members stood on the banks of the river, Kentucky National Guardsmen, activated because there was no emergency and rescue squad at that time, began the search. The volunteers tried unsuccessfully to find Bus 27. Nearly fifty three hours later, the bus was found 250 yards downstream where the heavy currents of the muddy, cold river had swept it. The community mourned as volunteer efforts continued to find all children….the last child’s body was found 69 days later.
Lives were changed forever by a tragedy that touched not only the hearts of grieving families and friends but the nation as all mourned the loss of these young children.
It was at this time, with a sense of helplessness and a vision, two men, who aided in the search for victims, saw the need for an emergency and rescue team. On April 27, 1958, the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad was formed and became the first rescue squad established in the Commonwealth of
In the early morning hours of Friday, February 28, 1958 the eyes of the nation turned to the small town of Prestonsburg in eastern Kentucky. At approximately 8:15 a.m., a school bus with 48 high school and grade school students and one bus driver plunged into the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River. Surviving children told of their frantic efforts to save themselves, a brother, a sister, and/or a friend. Twenty-six children, ranging in age from 8 to 17, and the 27 year old bus driver, died in this horrific accident, the deadliest accident involving children in the history of the nation
The Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad values annual training and is determined that each volunteer have skills up to and beyond the standards required to ensure a safe, effective and efficient response team. In its fifty year history, it has not had any duty member fatalities and only three injuries resulting from dehydration and cold weather when their boat was lost in a swift water rescue and a member who was withdrawn from swift water training when a heart attack was suspected.
The twenty-eight volunteers believe in what they are doing and when funds have not been available, they have made the difference. One volunteer team member purchased a $10,000 boat needed for swift water rescue. When annual training began, members personally paid the $350 training cost.
Floyd County is located in the high poverty region of eastern Kentucky where the unemployment rate is significantly higher than that of the Commonwealth or the nation. In addition, the majority of positions held by residents are in minimum wage service jobs.
As the increases in fuel and food costs play havoc with disposable income and make living day to day more financially difficult for the community, the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad must seek alternate sources of financial support for more costly, needed items. It is very difficult to ask a community which has been a constant source of support through donations and fund-raising efforts to give beyond its capabilities. Over the years, the community has provided the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad with its total annual operating budget. By being frugal and resourceful, the squad has used the annual $48,000 to sustain its efforts.
The Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad is committed to providing basic and advanced life support services on demand, twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week. Through its affiliation with all police and fire departments within Floyd County, its twenty-eight volunteers realize the importance of a trained unit, their commitment and the services they provide. The volunteers also realize that to provide their services, they must have access to an inventory of reliable equipment and vehicles.
In this day and time, impending disasters, such as floods or tornadoes, school violence or terrorist attacks, could be only hours away. The Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad stands ready to act but must have the necessary equipment to do so effectively.
The Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad began services to the area in 1958 equipped with commitment, determination, resourcefulness, used equipment from Civil Defense and boats bought at an auction for $1 each (which the squad still uses). Over the years, the Squad has become an integral part of the community. The community has consistently supported the Squad’s efforts through donations and/or support of fund raising activities. However, since Floyd County has a high poverty rate and low employment and fuel and food costs are on the rise, it is difficult for the squad to ask the community to give more beyond the basic operating dollars.
Prestonsburg, a small, rural town in Eastern Kentucky, is the county seat of Floyd County. Floyd County has a population of 48,000 and covers approximately 400 square miles of mostly mountainous terrain. One square mile of this land area is water including the Levisa Fork and other Big Sandy River tributaries and the lake at Jenny Wiley State Park, which is a very popular boating, fishing and water skiing site.
Floyd County has 8 police departments and 9 fire departments. The police and fire departments call upon the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad to fulfill emergency and rescue functions involving highway accidents, extrication, search and rescue, dive rescue and recovery and communications.
Because the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad was the first emergency and response team east of the Mississippi to have the Jaws of Life, the only team in the area to have air bags, and the only certified Swift Water Team in Kentucky, the Squad is called to accident sites in counties throughout the Commonwealth and surrounding states. The Squad’s high performance is so well known, it is not surprising to hear someone at an accident site say, “Floyd County Rescue is here now. They will take care of it!”
The Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad is now celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in existence as the memory of that fatal day remains in the minds of all. The Squad’s continued resourcefulness and commitment to emergency and response service in the region has resulted in it being known as one of the best in the nation. As previously stated, it is the only certified Swift Water Team in Kentucky. This is definitely an added feature as flooding is prevalent in this region with flash floods being the most dangerous.