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New rescue truck fulfills years of dreams

The McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services has a new ride - a brand new Ford F-550 Super Duty, V-8 power stroke.

It has been in service for the past three weeks.

"We're very proud of our new rescue truck," McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Asst. Chief Stephen Sewell said. "This truck is actually designed as a rescue truck, unlike the old bread truck that wasn't designed for the purposes we were using it for. The new truck was greatly needed and will be greatly used."

The new truck has a specially-equipped body and made for carrying a variety of heavy equipment, such as extrication tools. It will be based out of Station No. 2, which is at the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport.

But the truck is more than just metal and emergency equipment. It represents the fulfillment of years of dreams of local rescue personnel.

Dating back to the days of when McDuffie County had an all-volunteer fire/rescue service, there were dreams of someday getting the funding needed to purchase a new rescue truck.

Unfortunately, because of a lack of funding through the years, such a vision was never fulfilled. As it turned out, members of the rescue squad, which was under the civil defense and headed By the late Herbert Widener, ended up settling for a surplus vehicle.

Mr. Widener, who later was elected to the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners, traveled to various parts of the state for several years, seeing what he could find at such surplus compounds. With few funds, he and other rescue volunteers in the county had to make the best of what they had.

Finally, squad officials settled on getting a surplus vehicle to serve in a dual role - as a rescue truck, loaded with a variety of equipment, including the Jaws of Life, used mainly to free persons trapped in wrecked vehicles. The other function of the truck was used to haul dive equipment for searching area lakes and rivers for drowning victims.

The truck was never designed for what it was used for. And neither was an old bread truck that later was purchased for the same purposes, recalled Asst. Chief Sewell said.

Since then, the county fire/rescue services, which is now a funded department through the county commission, "has come a long ways," said Asst. Chief Sewell. "Chief Bruce Tanner and I both realize how far this department has come, and that it's taken a lot of years to get where it has gotten to today."

Web posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007

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