The Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad is making plans to build a new facility beside their current location near Green brook Park.
Joe Johnson, a member of the Rescue Squad building committee and Captain Dustin Johnson attended Monday night's city council meeting seeking authorization for the rescue squad to do the construction, which is on city property.
The aldermen voted unanimously to grant approval.
According to Joe Johnson the new building will provide more space to store boats, vehicles, and other equipment all together at one place. "We have outgrown our building. It's still a good building but it's too small and we're having to store equipment at various member's locations," he said.
"We've got equipment scattered. We've got two boats in a little storage building but It takes about fifteen minutes to get one of them out and get it hooked to a truck. When we get a call, we need to go. We don't need to be trying to hand get a boat out of a storage building. These boats are heavy. It takes about four people to get them out. With this (new) building, we'll be able to drive in, leave the boat hooked to the truck, and then when we get a call, we will simply raise the door and drive out. It changes (improves) our response time. We're also building this for future expansion so maybe we won't have to do this again," said Johnson.
The new facility will be a 36' x 60' structure (attractive metal on the outside) with three bays, each bay twelve feet wide and 60 feet long.
County Mayor Mike Foster told WJLE that the county has budgeted $8,700 for the new rescue squad building and $1,700 for new rollup doors on the existing building. The county also provides annual funding to the rescue squad for operation as a non-profit organization. This year the amount is $16,821. The City of Smithville budgets $1,500 toward the operation of the rescue squad.
Johnson said the new facility will be built at no extra cost to the city. In addition to the county's contribution, the rest of the money is being raised from private donations and fundraisers. "We're proposing to do this at no cost to the city," said Johnson. The county commission has given us some money and we've raised (some money). We've got it up to about $17,000. We're still probably about $5,000 short," he said.
Rescue Squad members hope to upgrade their equipment in the future. Adding a boat and another four wheel drive vehicle to the fleet would help them better serve the community, according to Johnson.
In addition to searching for drowning victims, the rescue squad also conducts cave rescues and searches for missing persons. Earlier this summer, Johnson explained how that the rescue squad and others came to the aid of a man who had fallen and suffered broken bones while trying to climb a steep rock formation at Center Hill Lake. After making their way up the steep bluff, rescue workers reached the man, placed him in a stokes basket and used rappelling equipment to safely bring him down.
Members of the rescue squad, who voluntarily give of their time and effort without compensation, are also available to provide manpower assistance to local law enforcement and fire departments for other reasons, according to Johnson.
Through their membership with the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads, Incorporated, the local rescue squad receives assistance from other county rescue squads when needed to help conduct search and recovery efforts.