ANNA — Ohio’s first volunteer rescue squad will be celebrating its 50th anniversary Sunday, May 20, with an open house from 1 to 3 p.m.
Anna Rescue will host the open house at 203 S. Linden Ave., Anna. There will be door prizes, raffles, kid’s games, food and more during the event. CareFlight will also be at the open house.
The current chief is Jessica Lemly. Holly Shoffner is the volunteer assistant chief. Jessica Rickert is the administrator. David Klopfenstein is the treasurer and Tabitha Kill is the secretary. The trustees are Jason Nolte, Sharon Kill and Shane Rickert.
The squad was formed in 1968 by charter members Charles “Bus” Fridley, Joe Buschur, Harold Egbert, Joe Kendall, Gene Kuch and Fred “Pickle” Carey. From 1968 to 1974, a 1965 Cadillac hearse was used to transport patients to the hospital. The vehicle was purchased by the squad members with their own funds. Members were trained with American Red Cross first aid.
Starting in 1972, Anna Rescue member David Barhorst allowed the hearse to be stationed at a building he owned.
The state of Ohio changed the requirements for a volunteer to be on a rescue squad. Each volunteer had to have Basic Emergency Medical Technician training and certification in 1974. That same year, Anna Rescue expanded its area of service to include first responders to the villages of Botkins, Kettlersville and McCartyville.
In 1975, the squad purchased its first ambulance, a 1974 Chevrolet Care-O-Van. Pagers ere introduced and each member was equipped with one. The squad began charging $25 per call to help cover the cost of fuel and maintenance. Prior to this, the department was operated through donations given by residents and businesses.
The Shelby County Commissioners, in 1978, purchased Anna Rescue Squad and other squads in the county, new ambulances.
The first operating levy was placed before voters in Franklin, Van Buren and Dinsmore Townships in 1982. The five-year .3-mil operating levy was approved. That same year, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the current building located at 203 S. Linden St.
Volunteers worked on the building, which took four years to complete. The building was funded by donations and contracts for the villages and townships which Anna Rescue Squad serves. The new building opened in 1986.
The operating levies were renewed in 1987 by voters in Franklin, Van Buren and Dinsmore Township.
A new ambulance was purchased in 1988. The old ambulance was repainted and moved to the Botkins Fire Department to respond to calls in that area. A new ambulance was purchased in 1989 to replace the one housed at Botkins. The old 1978 ambulance was sold for $4,000 to Wilson Memorial Hospital.
Other milestones for the department include:
• JoAnn Koenig being one of the first squad members to receive paramedic certification.
• Adopting the Standard Operating Procedures.
• Celebrating 25 years of service in 1993 and being recognized as the first volunteer rescue squad in the state of Ohio.
• Purchased two new ambulances in 1997.
• Approved a new Medical Protocol which allowed EMTs and paramedics to provide more aggressive care to patients in 2000.
• In 2000, the squad’s EMS district is approximately 110 square miles and covers Dinsmore, Franklin and Van Buren Townships in Shelby County and Pusheta Township in Auglaize County. They had 491 patients and more than 400 runs in 1999. Patients were transported to Wilson Memorial, Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys and St. Rita’s Medical Center and Lima Memorial Hospital, both in Lima.
• Expanded its fleet to three trucks in 2007 with the purchase of a Horton International ambulance.
• Held its first squad sponsored blood drive in 2010. The annual event is held in July. The squad achieved a 2012 and 2013 Leading thee Way Gold Partner Recognition and partnerships in the Lifesaving Ambassador Club.
• Fire caused extensive damage to the inside of the building in 2012.
• Expanded its coverage area in 2013 to include three square miles in the northwest area, bringing coverage to a total of 113 square miles in 2013. The department also started paid staffing from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. A full-time administrator was hired to handle day-to-day department operations.
•Purchased a Lucas devise in 2014, which provides effective compressions during CPR operations.
• Began upgrading monitoring equipment in 2015 to the LifePak 15. The coverage area was expanded in 2015 to include Jackson Township and the village of Jackson Center.
• Purchased a 2016 Braun Ambulance in 2016 as the department began upgrading its aging fleet.
Previous chiefs for the Anna Rescue Squad were Harold Egbert, 197-72; Joe Buschur, 1973-73; Charles “Bus” Fridley, 1975-76; Bob Romanowski, 1977-78; Roger Schmidt, 1979; Ralph Thaman, 1980; Sharon Smith, 1981; Jim Harpest, 1982-83; Patti Bergman, 1984; Vera Thaman, 1985-86; JoAnn Koenig, 1987; Sally Bender, 1988; Ed Pulfer, 1989; Alice Emery, 1991; Chuck Roe, 1992; Dale Zumberger, 1993; JoAnn Koenig, 1994-95; Duane Platfoot, 1996; Aaron Emerson, 1997-99; Ed Wellman, 2000-01; Aaron Emerson, 2001-05; Julie Stuchlick, 2006-07; Dustin Murphy, 2008-12; Ben Luthman, 2013-15; Matt Harvey, 2015-16; Melinda Gehrlich, 2016-17; and Jessica Lemly, 2017-present.
The mission of the Anna Rescue Squad Inc. shall be the administration of emergency medical services to victims of trauma and medical illness; rescue of persons in peril; the promotion of illness and injury prevention; and the aiding of civil authorities in case of fire, flood, or other disasters, natural or man-made.