Ambulance crucial step forward for Winston County Rescue Squad

The Winston County Rescue Squad has purchased its first ambulance. Above, Winston Medic 1 is parked in front of Arley Fire Department, which will be the WCRS’ base in Arley. At right are Helicon Fire Chief Neil Feist, Addison firefighter Darrell Smith and Arley Fire Chief James Rickett, members of the WCRS’ board of directors. Not shown are Ashley Tucker, Central Fire’s representative on the board, and Pat Hanna, board president.

ARLEY - The Winston County Rescue Squad has purchased its first ambulance, a 2005 Wheeled Coach built on a Ford F-350 cab chassis with a diesel engine and four-wheel drive.
Financed at Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, the Type I ambulance, which was previously owned by the fire department of Yellowstone Club, a private residential ski and golf resort in Big Sky, Montana, only has 45,000 miles on its odometer.
The WCRS Board of Directors acted quickly to purchase this ambulance, now designated Winston Medic 1, once they knew it was available.
“Trucks are hard to come by,” said Neil Feist, a member of the Board of Directors and the Helicon fire chief.
“Good trucks are hard to come by,” clarified James Rickett, another member of the board of directors and the Arley fire chief. “Wore out trucks are easy to find.”
“Yeah,” Feist agreed. “So, when Cody (Wakefield, president of the Winston County Firefighters Association) found this—low mileage,

good shape (and) it was going to be easy to re-emblem—we were like, ‘Let’s get it.’”
“(We) jumped on it,” Rickett said.
Darrell Smith, the member of the board of directors who represents Addison Fire Department, pointed out that in addition to this ambulance being a great buy, it was important to purchase it now so hopefully the community will realize that the board is serious about providing ambulance coverage to eastern Winston County.
Community support of the WCRS will be important going forward.
“The next step is to buy our equipment” for the ambulance, Feist said. That equipment will include a LUCAS automated chest compression device, an automated external defibrillator (AED), a heart monitor and expendables such as medicines and gloves.
Feist said that if the squad also has to buy a stretcher, the equipment necessary to outfit the ambulance will probably cost $40,000. He hopes to be able to use a stretcher that once belonged to the Addison Rescue Squad, if it is available.
“Once we get our equipment, through a volunteer status, we can get licensed because we have enough paramedics,” Feist added. A certain number of paramedics must be part of the rescue squad as a licensing requirement.
In other progress, Board President Pat Hanna submitted the application for 501(c)(3) status in June, Feist said, and on July 5, Rickett said that he expected the renovations to convert the second floor of Arley Fire Department into living quarters for WCRS paramedics to begin within a couple of weeks.
Rickett said he had been told that the WCRS would need two ambulances to operate, per state requirements.
Fortunately, Regional Paramedical Services Chief Operations Officer Eric Pendley told the board at its May 17 meeting that RPS would lease an ambulance to the WCRS.
“Our goal is to be licensed by the fall and hopefully be operational by the end of the year,” Feist said.
“We can always change those dates if we have to,” Rickett noted, “but we’re going to shoot for it.”
More funding is still needed to help the WCRS realize that goal. Some of that may come from grants for which the squad has applied, but the public’s support is still needed.
The WCRS recently held a fundraiser dinner at Chef Troy’s Talk of the Town, where, Rickett said, the squad raised around $1,700 through donations as well as the percentage of meal prices that was donated to the squad.
“We’re glad to have (individual donations) now, but we’re looking at the longterm plan,” Smith said. “We’ve got to have commitment past today.” He mentioned the need for corporate sponsorship in particular.
Feist said that while the WCRS probably won’t ever be self-sustaining, if only because of the volume of calls it will run, he believes that billing and some supplemental funding will make it sustainable.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the WCRS may do so in person at BankFirst in Arley or by mailing a check to the bank at P.O. Box 117, Arley, Ala., 35541, or to the WCRS itself at P.O. Box 471, Arley, Ala., 35541.



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