Feb. 19—To truly define the meaning of "rescue," London and Laurel County has a hidden treasure in the London-Laurel Rescue Squad.
Besides responding to numerous traffic accidents during the deluge of winter weather over the past week, rescue squad members have also partnered with other agencies to assist during this trying time.
On Thursday, the organization received boxes of food to help those in need, delivering food boxes to residents at Carnaby Square Apartments and distributing the remainder to other families in the area who might need a supplements during the winter weather. The food was donated by Cedaridge Ministries.
With two full-time employees and over 50 volunteers who juggle full time jobs and their families, the winter storm brought eight-member crews to remain at the rescue squad station round-the-clock as needed to assist other agencies and serve the public.
Nathan Kirby, public relations officer for the London-Laurel Rescue Squad, said the extra duties performed during this harsh weather is nothing new for their members.
"It's business as usual for the squad in winters like this," he said. "We have eight or nine people spending the night at the station and we have two National Guard members here to help out. We assist the ambulance service with transporting because the roads have been slick and they can't get to some places. We have a four-wheel drive and six-wheel drive Polaris and we have several members who are EMTs and paramedics."
The rescue squad also assists local fire departments in their duties — again, bringing in their equipment and vehicles where the large fire trucks cannot travel.
It has been a busy week for rescue squad members.
"We had 18 wrecks on Sunday, we've had eight or nine calls where an ambulance couldn't get up a hill, we've had five or six calls to deliver medicine for people who couldn't get out," Kirby added.
Many hospital employees have also relied on the rescue squad for transportation to and from work during the winter weather as well as transporting people to area warming centers over the past several days. Currently, West London Baptist Church and Feltner 4-H Camp have opened their doors to allow persons to have a warm place while without heat.
The county was declared in a state of emergency on Tuesday, with over 9,500 homes without electricity as Sunday's ice storm caused trees to fall across utility lines throughout the county. Rescue squad members were assisting with transporting patients from their homes to ambulances and transporting patients to dialysis and other urgent medical needs.
"We did the same thing when we had the last bad winter storm in 2015 and a couple years before that," Kirby added. "We try to assist in any way we can."
Kirby also warned residents to be safe during this time, especially with using other forms of heat during power outages.
"We have already lost one person to carbon monoxide poisoning," he said. "Only use a generator in a ventilated area, like a back porch with an extension cord. Generators are like a lawn mower — you can't run them inside a house. And never use your oven for heat."
If you need assistance with food, medicine delivery or transportation to a warming shelter, contact the rescue squad at (606) 877-1108. For non-emergency calls, contact Laurel Dispatch at (606) 878-7000. Please do not call 9-1-1 for road conditions, power outages or fallen trees.