Greene County Rescue Squad
405 S 6th St Paragould, Arkansas 72450
(870) 236-0301

History of The Greene County Rescue Squad

In the spring of 1982, Butch Heath began the planning and preliminary work to organize a rescue squad. Butch was aware of the need of a rescue squad from his experiences in operating a private ambulance service for 23 years. The early planning consisted of presenting programs to groups, civic clubs and various organizations, and obtaining information on various types of rescue equipment. Several trips were made throughout the state to visit other organized rescue squads. Butch solicited legal assistance and began constructing a set of by-laws to govern the rescue squad.

Actual operations began in the spring of 1983. Ronnie Brengard joined Butch to become the second member. Equipment belonging to Heath consisted of a pry bar, bolt cutters, 2 hacksaws and some rope.

The first response was a head-on collision on Hwy 34 west of Hwy 135. Using only hand tools the rescue and ambulance personnel flapped the roof back, forced a door open and removed the patient in about 15 minutes. Heath had responded with the hand tools in the trunk of his '68 GTO.

By the summer of 1983, the squad consisted of six members and had begun fund-raisers to purchase rescue equipment. The Kiwanis Club of Paragould challenged the group to raise $4,000.00 and the club would match it. The members completed their part and the club followed, allowing the squad to purchase the "Jaws of Life" equipment for $8,000.00. The "Jaws" was first used to free a victim in a wreck in October of 1983. Other civic clubs have also made contributions to the squad throughout the years.

In the late fall of 1983, a 1971 ambulance was donated from Arkansas Methodist Hospital to the Rescue Squad to be used as the first rescue truck.

A rescue stokes basket was donated to the Rescue Squad by the Kiwanis Club of Paragould.

In January of 1984 the squad purchased 14 pagers to notify members of rescue calls. In the spring of 1984, Southwestern Bell Telephone donated a 1975 Dodge van to be used as an additional rescue vehicle. The Greene County Rescue Squad participated in the county disaster drills and had become recognized by agencies as a great asset to the community.

In the fall of 1984 the United Way of Greene County accepted the Rescue Squad as an agency to receive donated funds.

The squad also assists other local agencies with crowd control or traffic control during major fires or other emergencies. The squad also began teaching extrication to the local EMT classes. The Rescue Squad often gives demonstrations to schools, boy and girl scouts, civic clubs and other organizations to make the public aware of their operations. Since its humble beginning the squad has helped rescue many victims and is already credited with saving several lives.

In the spring of 1986 the squad obtained an air bag/tank seal kit used to lift objects and seal leaks in tanks or tanker trailers.

In November of 1986 the squad acquired a used 1 ton utility truck to be converted to a rescue vehicle. After 3 months and over 300 man hours of squad members working to wire up strobe lights, an 8000 lb. winch bumper, 100 watt siren, 110 power converter to power four 500 watt quartz lights and many other

modifications, the once utility truck had been converted into a state-of-the art rescue truck.

The squad continued to obtain new items to broaden its resources of rescue equipment. A rescue air gun was obtained and is used to cut large sheet metal areas such as a school bus top.

In December 1986 the Rescue Squad members began adopting a family each year at Christmas, using their personal finances to make a family's holiday a little better, and continue to do so each year.

Since the squad began, it has maintained an average reaction time of 2 minutes. This is the time between the squad members first notification by pagers until someone is en route with the rescue truck to the accident scene. This shows the dedication the squad volunteer members have to the community they serve.

By summer of 1988 the Rescue Squad had thousands of dollars invested in the rescue truck and its

equipment. The squad truck had to remain outside in the elements and was even vandalized on occasion. The squad lost use of the building where the truck was being kept across from the sheriff's office.

In October of 1988, Linda Camp and Barbara Kueter offered land behind Linda's Flower Garden to the squad to build a squad building. With the help of several local individuals and businesses a fund drive was started to obtain funds to construct a building to house the squad truck and for members to use for meetings and training. The year of 1989 saw the completion of the 26 x 36 x 16 foot structure. Squad members with volunteers from the community worked on the interior to provide a bath and shower, office and upstairs meeting/training room in the building. The building cost $10,000.00 initially, but most of the material and labor used to finish the interior was donated.

Also in 1989 the squad purchased a new paging system with 25 new pagers at a cost of $23,000.00, with a loan from a local bank.

In 1992 Curtis Davenport was elected the 2nd Chief of the rescue squad, and still serves in that position as of 2015.

In the spring of 1993, the squad started a memorial/honor fund allowing donations to be made to the squad in honor of or to memorialize a person and helping fund the squad's efforts

In the fall of 1993, the Greene County Rescue Squad was allowed to start taking part in training classes at the Arkansas Fire Academy sites in Jonesboro and Walnut Ridge.

In 1994 the squad purchased complete turnout uniforms to outfit all squad members in protective uniforms, which cost around $800 each. In March the squad purchased a new “Amkus” spreader to replace a spreader damaged during a training session. In April of 1994 the squad purchased an “Amkus” power unit, splitter valves and 4 hydraulic hoses which allows the squad to hook up all 6 pieces of hydraulic extraction equipment (2 spreaders, 3 rams, 2 cutters) and actually operate 3 pieces of equipment at the same time. The cost of this extrication equipment was around $10,000.00.

In the fall of 1995, the squad began purchasing portable handheld radios. This gives each squad member two-way communication during any activity the squad is involved in. The radios allow the squad to communicate with any agency in Greene County and several departments in the surrounding counties. This allows squad members to call for assistance with accidents and storm spotting. The radios cost $750 each. The squad borrowed $10,000.00.

The Greene County Rescue Squad began receiving recognition as experts in the field of auto extrication. In the fall of 1995, squad member Curtis Davenport became a Special Adjunct Extrication Instructor with the Arkansas Fire Academy. Davenport has taught extrication, and other rescue and non-fire related classes to many fire departments throughout Arkansas.

In the winter of 1996 and spring of 1997, the squad began work on the "Crash Cart." The 4-wheel aluminum cart houses the main hydraulic power unit, cutter, spreader and 3 rams. This equipment is hooked up and ready to use. When the squad arrives at an extrication scene, the "Crash Cart" is removed from the rear of the truck by a ramp. As soon as the power unit is started the extrication process can begin. This saves several valuable minutes of getting the separate pieces of equipment and hooking up the hoses. This allows for much faster extrication times allowing the medics to treat and transport the patient to the hospital sooner, possibly saving lives.

In 1997 the GCRS purchased a used 22 ft. camping trailer. The trailer was converted into a Mobile First Aid/Command Post. The trailer is used for first-aid at community activities such as the Loose Caboose Festival and the Greene County Fair. The trailer can also be utilized in disaster situations such as tornados, floods, earthquakes, etc. The command post is also made available to other agencies as needed such as the Paragould Fire Department during a prolonged structure fire, allowing firemen rest & recovery inside the trailer. The sheriff's office or police department could possibly use the trailer during a stand-off situation.

The GCRS received $4600.00 from the State Office of Emergency Services, with the help of the County OES, as its first grant money to begin this project. This money purchased the A/C, heater, radio and generator to help get the trailer outfitted. All the work to convert the trailer was done by squad members or was donated, as were several items by area businesses. The Mobile First Aid/Command Post has been a great asset for responding to any disaster situation in the area, and is available to all emergency response agencies in Greene County.

In the spring of 1997 the squad purchased a steering wheel/brake pedal cutter to add to the arsenal of hydraulic extrication equipment. This is a small, one-hand use tool enabling the squad to access and cut brake and clutch pedals and/or steering wheel and gear shifters which may entrap the victim.

In the fall of 1997 the squad received a donation of a blood hound tracking dog to use in ground searches for lost persons. John Hitchcock of Pine Hill Kennels provided the dog to the squad.

In early 1998 the squad purchased 4 more radios and paid off the note for the other radios in April of 1998. This left the Greene County Rescue Squad free of any debts.

The Greene County Rescue Squad still operates on donated funds. The Greene County Community Fund is the main funding source of the squad. In 1998 the squad received $12,000.00 from the community fund. With occasional fund raisers and donations from local businesses and industry, and individual donations of the citizens of Greene County, the squad operates on an annual modest budget of $12,000.00 to $15,000.00 per year.

In 1998 the Greene County Rescue Squad celebrated 15 years of volunteer community service to Greene County & surrounding areas. The squad has 25 volunteer members who respond as professionals twenty-four hours a day when requested to help in a given situation or disaster. To help celebrate the 15th anniversary, the GCRS began a fund drive toward the purchase of a state of the art rescue truck with a custom designed aluminum rescue bed. In the first 15 years, with the support of citizens of Greene County, the squad had acquired over $150,000.00 in assets. The current truck was overloaded with equipment and some items could not be carried on the truck. This new rescue truck would allow the squad better access to its current arsenal of equipment and room for equipment obtained in the future. The GCRS is always striving to update and improve its capabilities to respond to help the citizens of this great community.

In 2002 the Endowment Foundation of Greene County awarded the squad a grant toward the purchase of a set of new "Res-Q-Jacs." These jacks can be used for stabilization, farm rescue, confined spaces and other applications.

In 2003 the rescue squad received a grant from the Endowment Foundation of Greene County toward the purchase of a new radio for the squads new rescue truck.

In January of 2003 the rescue squad ordered a 2003 4 door international truck with a 19 ft. custom rescue bed from Taylor-Made Ambulance in Newport, AR. The squad compiled their ideas to design the truck around its current equipment, future acquisitions of equipment and the types of services that it provides.

In October of 2003 the squad members voted to acquire a loan to purchase property and to start construction of a new truck bay to house the old and new trucks. Plans are to add a meeting/training room with kitchenette, shower, exercise area and office, and later add 2 or 3 more stalls for the rescue trailer and other equipment.

In December 2003, JC and Evangeline Cothren started an endowment for the Greene County Rescue Squad. This will give the squad a source of revenue and a way for those who wish to give a lasting gift to the squad.

On December 23, 2003 the rescue squad took delivery of it’s new rescue truck. The rescue bed is 19 ft. 8 in. in length. Special features include a 25kw pto generator, a 9000 watt light tower that extends 16 feet above the top of the bed, Automatic ice chains that deploy under the rear tires with the flip of a switch, 12,000 lb. HD winch bumper and a combination rear door/ramp for a new custom cart to hold all of the extrication tools. There are two 750 watt lights on each side of the bed and a 500 watt light on each corner of the bed, with the rear lights removable to stand on tripod frames. There is a 100 ft. hose reel for air and one for electricity. There is storage space for over 30 spine boards and for the rescue “stokes” basket. All the shelves are adjustable to customize each compartment. There are two large shelves in the second compartment that will slide out 60% on either side. This new truck will allow the squad to carry more equipment to accident scenes and room to add newly acquired equipment in the future.

On January 8, 2004, the rescue squad unveiled the new rescue squad truck to the public and media on the lot of the future squad building.

In 2004 the EFGC awarded the rescue squad a grant toward the purchase of an AJAX HD 911 Impact Kit. This impact chisel is used to cut large areas of sheet metal with air pressure.

The squad worked through the winter of 2004 at the fairgrounds outfitting the new rescue truck and the new crash cart.

In April 2004, the squad took the new rescue truck and crash cart to Indianapolis to the FDIC and Expo. The truck was set up in a booth for Taylor Made Ambulance. This was part of an agreement for a discounted price to let them show the truck to try to help them enter the rescue truck market. The truck and crash cart received quite a bit of attention from fire departments across the United States., Canada and even one group from Japan.

Construction of the new truck bay was completed in May and the new rescue truck was officially put into service in May 2004. Through the efforts of several key supporters of the rescue squad, the total cost of the building was paid for by the end of the construction. The squad still owes for the property.

The squad has been fortunate to still be a part of the "Round-up" Program at Paragould Light, Water & Cable each year.

In 2005 the EFGC awarded the GCRS a grant toward the purchase of 2 new "speedway" cutter blades for the hydraulic cutters. The new cutter blades are larger and provide a deeper cut and are capable of cutting longer B & C posts of a vehicle in one cut.

Early in 2005 Rescue 77 was taken out of service and was repainted yellow to match the new rescue truck. It was also lettered and striped with the same blue reflective vinyl lettering and squad logo. Rescue 77 will have back-up extrication equipment and will have plywood and 4 x 4's for trench and farm rescue situations.

Later in 2005 the rescue squad received a Jeep Cherokee from the Greene County Sheriff's Department that they were taking out of service. The squad also had it painted, striped and lettered to match Rescue 76. Rescue 78 has first aid equipment, a two-piece rescue basket and some hand tools.

In 2006 the EFGC awarded the squad a grant toward the purchase of two new rescue "stokes" baskets. One of the baskets is of a single piece construction with a 600 lb. capacity. The second basket is a 2 piece break down unit which allows it to be carried in the squad's 2000 Jeep.

In 2006, the squad purchased some light duty nomex extrication suits to wear during the warmer months. The squad also purchased 20 new portable radios to update the communication system to keep it compatible with the Paragould Police Department, Greene County Sheriff's Office and the Paragould Fire Department.

In the spring of 2006, Marmaduke was again struck by a tornado. The squad responded with its trucks, equipment and First Aid/Command Post Trailer. During this disaster the squad realized it needed a larger trailer for this type of disaster response, and the old trailer received some damage from high winds a few days after the tornado. In the fall of 2006, Chief Davenport applied to American Railcar Industries for a grant to replace the trailer and they responded with an $8,000.00 grant to help with the project. The squad has designed a 30 foot enclosed cargo trailer to be used as a Mobile First Aid/Command Post Trailer. The squad members converted the inside of the trailer themselves to save money and to customize it to their own specifications. Local business’ donated material and squad members provided all the labor for the conversion. The trailer is used for a first aid station at community events and will provide a mobile command post during a disaster situation.

Since 2006 The Teleflora Corporation in Paragould has a unique company plan which allows each company employee to donate up to $1000 of Teleflora Roll Giving Fund to their charity of choice. These funds will used to help pay on the building note and purchase new equipment.

Early in 2007, the squad kicked off a capital improvement campaign to add a new addition to the current building, After the initial metal building was erected the squad members provided the labor to constructed the interior which included an office, meeting/training room, bath with shower, a full kitchen, living room, and three new equipment bays. Local business’ and contractors supplied donated labor and/or discounted materials for the project. In the fall of 2008 the squad celebrated 25 years of operation by dedicating the facility. The squad had spent just over $120,000.00 for the project. The donated labor and materials had saved the squad several thousand dollars. The squad had to finance $86,000.00 for the new facility. The squad is very proud of the support from the community and expect the new facility to serve the squad and community for many decades into the future.

In 2009 the squad purchased a used “simo “ hydraulic power unit, extra hoses and splitter valve to serve as a secondary & back-up power unit on Rescue 76, this give the squad back-up power as well a complete second power unit to use at a scene with multiple extrications.

In 2010 the squad purchase a new HD Hydraulic spreader ”JAWS OF LIFE” ,and HD Hydraulic cutter the spreader came with extra off-set tips and a chain package. This give 2 full sets of cutters & spreader and power units on Rescue 76.

In 2011 the squad purchased 2 new chain saws to keep on Rescue 76, the have been many incidents where the squad needed to remove trees where an extrication is done off the roadway, the can also be used to help clear roadways after severe weather and ice storms.

In 2012 the squad received a grant from the Endowment Foundation of Greene County to purchased 2 new rescue ladders to keep on Rescue 76, they fit into the upper left storage box on top of the rescue truck, which was a design by the squad when outfitting the design of rescue 76.

In 2012 with the assistance of the Paragould Fire Dept. the squad received a grant to purchase sets of high pressure and low pressure lifting air bags. These lifting bags can be used in a variety of rescue situations from extrications, farm accidents, building collapse and other rescue situations.

In 2012 the squad also upgraded its radio and paging systems to stay compatible with the PPD, GCSO, PFD and AMMC.

The new system allows for countywide coverage in most cases with a portable radio. All of the squad’s vehicles, Command Post, and squad building received new radios. Each squad member has a new portable radio and pager, several

Squad members purchased mobile radio for their personal vehicles which will give the squad better communication capabilities on accident scenes, searches and, communicating with the other emergency departments.

In 2013 the rescue squad received a army surplus HumVee “hummer” with the help of the Greene County Sherrif’s Office. A local body shop painted the exterior to match our yellow color scheme and was stripped and lettered to match the other units. Emergency lights, radios and a stretcher used to carry a patient in an off road type of situations. The hummers has been utilized many times since put into service. During severe weather and especially during the last 2 winters during iced over roadways by help the ambulance service reach their patients or in some cases where the ambulance could not get to the patient the hummer carried the medics to the scene and then transported the patient to the ambulance.

In 2014 the squad received a grant from the Endowment Foundation of Greene County to help purchase 2 addition “stokes” rescue baskets and a SKED rescue system which can help carry a patient in several different situation, such a confined or limited access senerios and rope rescues

In 2014 the Farm Bureau of Greene County started efforts toraise funds to help the squad purchase rescue items specific to a farm rescue situation involving entrapment or engulfment inside a grain bin. The Farm Bureau and many farmers and farm related business’ donated funds to be used to purchase a “rescue tube” and vacuums to remove grain in August of 2014 .

In late 2014 the rescue squad also participated in a Farmedic training class which was an update for some members and new training for others on the squad and other local departments. This training involves both classroom and hands on rescue senerios involving grain bin entrapment, pto shaft and auger entanglements, and tractor rollovers and extrications specific to farm related rescue situations.

In March of 2015 the squad conducted school bus/big truck extrication training. Over 40 responders from 8 different departments took part in the training. The class consisted of classroom information dealing with specific construction of these larger vehicles and the different types of special techniques used in the extrication from types of vehicles. There was discussion about the possibility of multiple/mass casualty situations and the types of injuries to be dealt with. Also the understanding that there would be multiple agencies responding and proper use of the Incident Command System to help control the situation. The hands on part including using all of the techniques and tools available to gain access from all sides and bottom of a school bus to gain entry and begin the process to extricate and remove the victims. We also had a convention big truck and a dump truck to practice gaining initials access and removal of the doors, rolling the dash forward and pulling the steering column to help free up entrapped victims.

In May of 2015 the squad was able to purchase some rope rescue equipment with the Funds from that came from the local farmers and farm related business. This included ropes, harnesses and rigging items used to raise or lower a person from different rescue senerios. The squad is in the process of planning training sessions specific to rope rescue situations. This equipment will give the squad some new capabilities that we did not have because of the lack of the proper equipment and training.

The Rescue squad’s dedicated volunteers train and respond and conduct themselves as true rescue professionals, we take pride in the fact that our community has believed in and support the squad since 1983. We have been able to accomplish a lot with limited funds because of the support of the Greene County Community Fund and many individuals, local business, industries, civic clubs and groups throughout the community we serve. The squad members give thousands of ours each year training, responding to incidents and time manning the squad building on their free time. The members often sacrifice time leaving work and their families to respond to emergencies when called upon and participate in training, meeting and to take care of the daily duties it take to operate this type of organization.

The reward we receive is the satisfaction in knowing we help reduce suffering and assist in saving lives and provide a valuable service to our friends, neighbors and citizens of Paragould, Greene County and surrounding areas in NE Arkansas.

In 2015 the squad will celebrate 32 years of volunteer community service to the citizens of Paragould, Greene County

and NE Arkansas. With the support of the community the squad is always working to acquire new equipment, to up-grade

and increase the capabilities and services the squad provides. The squad thanks all of the citizens, business’ and organizations that have supported the squad for the past 32 years. With the continued support the squad will be able to

continue to provide the most up to date professional rescue services thru training and new equipment.