Rescue Squad to celebrate 60th anniversary with events today
By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Billy Barnes’ death saved lives.
When the 17-year-old drowned in the American Quarry lake on May 31, 1951, Rowan residents sprung into action.
Less than two months later, those who searched the lake for the teenager’s body formed the Rowan County Rescue Squad.
The squad will celebrate its 60th anniversary today.
The Rescue Squad responds to about 1,400 calls a year, Chief Coyt Karriker said Thursday. On top of that, the squad has been to 174 events as stand-by personnel.
Before the creation of the squad, residents or military veterans would often help in rescues.
During Barnes’ rescue efforts, the Post reported in 1951: “Several hundred persons lined the banks of the quarry pit today watching rescue efforts which were made with the aid of boats and hooks.”
It took volunteers 12 days to find Barnes’ body.
On July 21, 1951, the Rescue Squad received its charter.
Karriker said the squad wanted to wait until the fall for the 60th anniversary celebration so the call volume would be less and more people would be able to attend. “Summer time is just really bad here, with all the standby events and the weekends are just full,” Karriker said. “So we wanted to wait for the fall.”
Today’s event, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m., is open to anyone who has a history with the squad or has received an invitation.
The event had 225 confirmed guests for the event on Thursday, Karriker said.
A portion of the event will be dedicated to the squad’s annual award ceremony.
“We have approximately 50 on the roster right now,” Karriker said. “That’s made up of full time, part time and we have an intern program here as well.”
St. John’s Men’s Chorus will provide entertainment at the event, along with Jeff McCorkle and Company’s Strings of Victory.
Karriker said Mary Beaver, one of the squad’s original charter members, will also be a guest speaker.
Harold Morefield, the president of the board that oversees the Rowan Rescue Squad, said the celebration reflects the gratitude of the board for volunteers’ time and effort.
We’re proud of what the squad has become over the years from the humble beginnings that started from scatch out of necessity,” Morefield said. “Volunteers have given up their time, time at home with their families, to go out and do land searches, to drag and dive for dragging victims, to run emergency calls or transport emergency calls.”
As of the end of October, Rescue Squad members had logged 11,606 hours of training time, not including the hours from the squad’s lifetime members.
“It takes more than the board, it takes more than the volunteers, it takes more than the chief,” Morefield said. “It takes everybody working together to get the mission accomplished.”
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