Editorial: Rescue Squad finds its footing with Carlyle’s election

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Rowan County Rescue Squad looks like it has found firm footing for the foreseeable future with Allen Carlyle being named chief after a period of uncertainty.

Carlyle was named chief Tuesday in what was a nearly unanimous vote, reporter Shavonne Walker wrote in Wednesday’s Post (“Rescue Squad chooses new chief”). The other contender, Phil York, was named deputy chief.

In becoming chief, Carlyle said he plans to make a few structural changes, including having one deputy chief, one assistant chief, three captains and two lieutenants. That represents a slimmed-down leadership structure.

Another change: T.J. Brown will be director of administration instead of having the chief serve in that position, too. Carlyle’s position will be volunteer while Brown’s will be paid.

If Carlyle’s statement that there have already been 15 applications, including some from former squad members, is true, it means recent changes are a good end to an uncertain time for an agency that’s critical to public safety in Rowan County.

Four months ago, former Chief Eddie Cress was suspended and placed on a 60-day leave before eventually separating from the squad. His wife and son also are no longer with the squad.

For a moment, it looked as if county officials planned to make more changes to the squad in what was already an uncomfortable time, with options ranging from keeping things as is to pulling county funding completely. The former apparently prevailed, with a new chief being named and $420,000 in county funding being allocated to the squad, a nonprofit that receives a sizable chunk of its funding from county government.

Between Cress’ suspension and Carlyle’s election, the squad’s discussed reforms ranging from addressing nepotism to saving money by closing a Rockwell station.

If county officials, commissioners or staff, want additional changes in the Rowan County Rescue Squad — an agency solely focused on specialized rescues, for example — they should allow Carlyle to settle in, build a roster of volunteers and finalize a command staff before doing so.

Especially when car accidents turn critical or rescue services are needed in rural Rowan, the squad is invaluable. And county officials should consider public safety and whether the change is a sound financial one rather than attempts to play politics.

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