RICHMOND, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Madison County Rescue Squad did not get the kind of lifeline it so often provided to so many people (and animals) since 1974. The County, and Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor decided against a contract renewal with the agency.
“Forty-five years we were in business, so it was abrupt,” said former Rescue Squad Lt. Steve Rhodus. “I was sad to see it go.”
But technically it’s not going away. It’s just going to a different part of town. As of midnight Wednesday the squad was placed under the jurisdiction of the Madison County Fire Department. Chief Tim Gray says his department was on the scene, and assisting, virtually every time the rescue squad was called, so he feels his firefighters will be up to the task.
“With auto extractions and things like that it’ll be fine,” Rhodus said. “My concern is for general search and rescue, water rescue and recovery and high and low angle rope rescue. Even farm animal rescue,” Rhodus added.
Rhodus said the county will save about $17,000, which essentially covered their rent of a small building on South Estill Avenue, and other administrative costs.
But, even if everything goes as planned, it’s still upsetting to the many volunteers who devoted countless hours to a difficult, non-paying job. County EMS Director Carlos Coyle used to be one of them.
“You’re always sad to see an end to anything,” he said from his office. “An invaluable amount of time and expertise there,” he said of the Rescue Squad’s members.
But Coyle understands the thought process behind the decision, and even feels this move will end up being more beneficial to the county’s citizens in certain areas.
“You’ll probably see an enhanced response time in certain rural parts of the county,” he stressed, while alluding to the number of fire departments that can get involved when needed. He also noted that many of them are spread out across the county, as opposed to the Rescue Squad’s one location near downtown Richmond.
For Taylor, it’s all about efficiency and safety, which he referenced in a written statement.
“This decision was made after careful deliberation and review of a variety of factors including concerns over possible litigation, financial oversight, feedback from citizens and on-scene safety concerns,” he wrote.
All viable concerns, but no less disheartening for the many volunteers who worked the Rescue Squad, and didn’t get to do that job today for the first time since 1974.