March 23, 2021
By: Dwayne Page
The Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad is getting the financial help it needs from the county to organize a Swift Water Rescue Task Force.
During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, the county commission voted unanimously to appropriate $18,000 from the general fund balance as an extra contribution to the Rescue Squad to train and equip up to fifteen volunteers for the task force. That comes to a little less than $1,200 per person.
The task force is being created due to an increase in DeKalb County swift water rescues in recent years, including two just last month.
The task force, to be led by the Rescue Squad, will also include volunteers from the DeKalb County, Smithville and Alexandria Volunteer Fire Departments and possibly local law enforcement officers and others who would be specially trained and equipped for swift water rescues.
“We would have fifteen sets of gear but I would like to have more than fifteen personnel on this team but to start off with I want the equipment for fifteen. We will probably have more people on the list and they can go to school too but they will use the gear we will have. We won’t have to buy gear for every single person (more than fifteen). They can use each other’s gear. I think fifteen sets of gear will be significant to keep on hand although the gear will need to be replaced over time as it wears out,” said Rescue Squad Captain Dusty Johnson.
Second District Commissioner Myron Rhody pointed out that more volunteers might be needed to ensure enough people are available to answer a call when a swift water emergency occurs.
“You may have fifteen members but there might only be six or seven show up on a call or if you had thirty members you might not have but eight or ten respond so you will have enough gear to equip up to fifteen if they show up,” said Rhody.
The Rescue Squad, made up of volunteers, is a non-profit organization and not an entity of county government. It receives an annual contribution from the county of $26,000 for its services which includes searching for drowning victims, cave/rope rescues and searches for missing persons, etc. But in most cases, neither the rescue squad members nor volunteer firefighters and other emergency first responders locally are specially trained in water rescues. This additional $18,000 contribution from the county to the rescue squad will be earmarked just for this special training and equipment.