Since its founding in 1952, the Putnam County Rescue Squad has provided assistance to the local population. The squad was first formed as a component of Civil Defense, which was established in 1941 to protect residents from military assaults and natural disasters, but it eventually changed its focus to emergency response and disaster relief. The Civil Defense's function was transferred to FEMA after the Cold War ended, and FEMA took over disaster management in 1979.
The rescue squad's goal as a committed team of volunteers is to offer support to Putnam County residents in times of need. The squad's initial membership was only twelve, and a used van supplied by the neighborhood phone company served as its lone vehicle. Despite lacking the necessary tools, formal training, and credentials, they were adamant about making a difference. The squad's fundamental responsibilities of search and rescue remained a major priority despite the difficulties. The Putnam County Rescue Squad is still run by devoted volunteers who work hard to protect their community's safety and welfare.
Water Rescue rapidly became one of the squad's new duties after a boat and trailer were purchased. Initially, the main goal of water rescue was to look for drowning victims in rivers. The squad expanded its emergency response services to include extrication, which entails rescuing people from smashed-up cars in a safe and efficient manner. To release entrapped people, this procedure frequently involves removing doors and bending or cutting car bodies.
The Rescue Squad received its first Jaws of Life, pictured on the left, in the late 1970s, which represented a considerable advancement above extrication instruments used by hand. The squad's ability to quickly and effectively cut through metal due to the assistance of this strong hydraulic equipment made it simpler for them to rescue the victims. The Rescue Squad is still developing and adjusting today to give Putnam County citizens the best possible service.
The Putnam County Rescue Squad has added a number of specialist teams to its roster of teams during the past few years. The Swiftwater Rescue team reacts to floods and accident occurrences in rivers and streams that are used for recreational purposes. The Dive team is in charge of collecting automobiles and other goods submerged in water as well as looking underwater for drowning victims. The Rope Rescue team is an expert in high-angle/mountain rescues and uses rappelling techniques to reach and recover people from inhospitable and dangerous terrain. The squad is capable of performing school bus rescues and extrications thanks to their intensive extrication training.
The Structural Collapse and Trench Rescue team is an expert in trench cave-in rescues, restricted areas, and unstable structures. This team was mobilized together with other squad members during the tornado occurrence in March 2020 that had a significant impact on Putnam County. Additionally, the Rural Search and Rescue team searches for and locates lost or missing people, primarily in the county's rural towns, using basic land navigation and GPS. The agricultural Rescue team has received specialized training to manage risks related to agricultural accidents and huge farming equipment.
Putnam County regularly receives damaging thunderstorms, copious amounts of rain, and rare tornadoes. The Storm Spotters team is engaged during extreme weather occurrences to assist in locating and identifying impacted regions and to notify the public as soon as possible to maximize preparation time.
The First Responders team, which responds alongside Putnam County EMS, is made up of medically qualified professionals, including Paramedics, Advanced EMT’s, EMT’s, and EMR’s. They frequently respond first to medical or traumatic events, giving stabilization and emergency medical care until EMS can arrive. The Putnam County Rescue Squad is always changing and adapting in order to fulfill the requirements of its residents and deliver the best quality of service.
The squad's capabilities have grown substantially over the years, and it now has a remarkable fleet of 14 cars that are strategically stationed at four different places throughout the county for quick reaction times. The team also possesses two four-wheelers, two Kubota UTVs fitted with Medi-Beds for moving patients out of difficult terrain, a Polaris Ranger, and four trailers filled with specialist equipment required for advanced rescue operations, in addition to two boats and a swift-water rescue raft. The squad is well-equipped to face a variety of emergencies and calamities with these resources at their disposal.
The Putnam County Rescue Squad now has a crew of about 70 committed members who go through rigorous training and are prepared to answer emergency calls around-the-clock, every day of the year. Over 1200 cries for assistance are typically responded to by the squad each year, and this number keeps rising. As volunteers, our members are dedicated to investing their own time and money into being prepared to respond whenever duty requires them. They have a strong sense of civic responsibility. However, because of their degree of commitment, they frequently have to give up important family time, which can also have a financial cost. Despite these difficulties, each team member is aware that every call for help may involve potentially fatal situations for both the victims and themselves.
It's wonderful to know that mutual aid agreements enable the Putnam County Rescue Squad to provide assistance not only in their own neighborhood but also in neighboring counties. In emergency response scenarios where resources and personnel may be stretched thin, this kind of cooperation is crucial. The squad is a great asset to the area because of its experience in responding to a range of emergencies, including traffic accidents and wilderness rescues. The squad members' passion to serve their community is genuinely impressive, therefore it's crucial to acknowledge the time and resource sacrifices they make.