Harlan County Rescue Squad celebrates 60 years

Published 11:00 am Friday, August 2, 2019

The Harlan County Rescue Squad celebrated 60 years of service for the region on Tuesday as volunteers met at the north Evarts campground to cook out and socialize together.

“The county helps us a lot. They’ve really stepped up and helped us throughout the years, and without them, we couldn’t hardly exist because it’s all donations and stuff like that,” said captain Chris Allen. “I got a lot of people that help in different ways that really don’t want their name out, but I’d like to thank all them for everything they’ve done to step up and help us out. I’d like to thank the members that take the time out of their lives to help.”

Allen said the rescue squad conducts a number of different rescues, including high-angle, ATV, missing person, drownings and more, all through the effort of his volunteers.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s all volunteer, with around 40 people total. There’s nobody paid in it,” Allen said. “We serve all of Harlan, with a station at Highsplint, a safety building here in north Evarts with ATV’s, we have a station in Cumberland now that we took over the Tri-Cities rescue squad a little over a year ago and we also have equipment at Grays Knob. We’ve got it all spread out so we can get to people a lot quicker.”

Allen said he joined the rescue squad 28 years ago after his cousin was killed in a car accident. Allen was at the scene of the accident and watched as his cousin was pulled from the car by the rescue squad and “that’s what made me join.”

“To be honest, I didn’t want to feel helpless anymore because I couldn’t do what I needed to get him out at the time,” Allen said.

Allen’s now been captain of the rescue squad for nearly 15 years, adding he’s watched the squad grow and develop over the years.

“It’s grown a lot from the equipment when I first joined. They didn’t have anything to go off-road with. They only had a four-wheel drive truck, until we started getting more. We used our own personal stuff for a long time,” Allen said.

“About 15 years ago, when we had that plane crash down here, we had people up in Illinois raise money and actually donated us a 6×6 ranger and an ATV, then we used the money they raised to buy another ATV. Now, we have five rangers that we have stationed all throughout the county, a couple ATVs and this past year we got a drone that has infrared and night vision. We’re still training with it and getting it up and ready before we can put it in service. We also have a GPS tracking radio to help find missing persons to make sure all of the area is covered.”

Allen said he’s proud of what his group has accomplished and the lives they have changed by being able to help when needed.

“They’re all like me,” Allen said. “They just want somebody there in case someone needs help because if we have a family member in need, we hope someone would stop and help them too.”