2017-09-14 / Front Page

Emergency agencies in several counties join forces to send supplies to rescuers

By JANE ELLYN AARON
news editor

Washington Fire Chief C.J. Gilland and Lincoln County OES Director Casey Broom display one of the shirts they are sending for rescue squads in need.Washington Fire Chief C.J. Gilland and Lincoln County OES Director Casey Broom display one of the shirts they are sending for rescue squads in need.A collaboration to help relieve volunteer rescue personnel in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma has bridged the gap between Wilkes, Lincoln, and even Jefferson County emergency services.

After a recent call for donations of clothing and other supplies, The Washington Fire Department, Wilkes County EMS, The Lincoln County Office of Emergency Services, The Lincolnton Fire Department, with countless other volunteer stations throughout the counties, alongside Jefferson County rescue services have all come together to purchase T-shirts and other supplies to send to rescue squads in need.

The original initiative was born out of helping victims of hurricane Harvey, however supplies will more than likely be rerouted to squads in Florida depending on Irma’s impact, and the greater need for help.

“We’re just doing this because of the brotherhood – brothers helping brothers and sisters. We support one another,” Lincolnton Fire Chief Matt Ivey said. “It’s not just T-shirts, but it’s things like socks, Clorox wipes, and towels. It’s really practical stuff that you may not think of when you’re put into that sort of situation.”

While the Lincolnton Fire Department and Loco Volunteer Fire Department joined forces to send 50 shirts to rescue personnel, other donations and even cash donations have been trickling in to aid in the relief movement from other sources.

Officials with the Washington Fire Department, the Lincolnton Office of Emergency Services, and other volunteer departments have come together to purchase another 350 shirts, and have been actively collecting supplies to send out as well.

“We saw an opportunity to meet a need, so we’re trying to help out. The shirts are going to volunteer departments, not big stations. We’re just volunteers helping volunteers, especially since they’re in devastated areas and don’t even have the ability to wash clothes. But, we’re sending T-shirts with the fire emblems on them to the rescue workers so they’ll, least of all, be identifiable,” OES Director Casey Broom said.

“This all started after I got a call from a friend about Jefferson and Wilkes collecting T-shirts for Texas, and since we don’t keep our department T-shirts stocked we just went from there,” Broom explained.

Wilkes County Fire Chief C.J. Gilland included their introduction to the volunteer effort as well.

“[An anonymous citizen] actual safely got us linked up with Jefferson County’s efforts – he had a friend who lives in Jefferson, so we started coordinating things through him,” Gilland said. “What we’re doing now is we’re waiting until this next wave comes in with Irma. This happened because officials in Jefferson received a phone call from the state fire marshal in Texas letting us know that they while appreciate the effort, they’re actually overwhelmed with donations, so we’re saving the supplies we’ve gathered and will probably end up sending them to aid those in Florida.”

On top of T-shirts and practical supplies, even 100 duffle bags filled with baby wipes, bug spray, and other pertinent items are being assembled to send to the storm-worn areas.

Special thanks were also extended to Michael Wengrow, owner of Goldman and Wengrow, and Troy Bunch, owner of Bunch-A-T’s Screen Printing, for putting together the T-shirts with the fire insignia.

While the exact location of where supplies are being sent to is currently unknown, regardless, the heart of the drive remains the same.

“If we can help keep other rescue outfits on the job so that they can help their own communities that’s the biggest thing we can accomplish,” Gilland said.

Furthermore, community members may make donations of the aforementioned supplies through this week should they wish to join the effort.

For more information, contact the Washington Fire Department at 706-678-7113, or contact any of the entities mentioned above.

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