Happy 50th anniversary, NSVRS

Published 8:23 pm Monday, March 1, 2010

They do it for a variety of personal reasons, but two things that members of the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad share are the love they have for their community and their desire to serve that community by providing top-rate emergency medical care and transportation to the city of Suffolk.

It’s a mission that turns 50 this year, and as the organization celebrates its anniversary it’s an appropriate time for the community to consider where it would be without the volunteers and the rescue squad that so many people have dedicated so much time toward strengthening.

Prior to the founding of the squad in 1960, Suffolk relied on ambulances owned by a local funeral home and an auto repair shop. “If anything happened, the guy had to go wash his greasy hands before he left,” volunteer Melvin Smith recalled recently. Clearly times were different, and neither the state of healthcare nor the population of the area required the advanced systems that are in use today. Still, however, a group of local volunteers realized even then that the situation needed improving, and they set up the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad to serve an area ranging from Gates County, N.C., in the south to Ivor in the north, and from Franklin in the west to Chesapeake in the east.

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In the years that followed, members helped set up other volunteer units in Ivor, Windsor, Smithfield and Bennett’s Creek, efforts that would have the dual effects of reducing the area for which the Nansemond-Suffolk organization had responsibility and giving folks in those other areas quicker medical emergency response times.

During the same period, paid emergency services crews became more and more prevalent in the cities of Hampton Roads. But the NSVRS has remained a volunteer organization, and the city of Suffolk continues to count on it for a major portion of its emergency medical transport needs. Indeed, without the volunteers on the squad downtown, the city would find itself in a dire situation — one of higher taxes and transport fees.

Past and present members of the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad — as well as the members of those squads that were spawned from the original one — deserve the hearty congratulations and thanks of a community that is grateful for the sacrifice they have made. The squad is truly one of the things that makes Suffolk special.