Vinton First Aid Crew helps keep Vinton Dogwood Festival safe and enjoyable for thousands

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By JORDAN FIFER
Vinton First Aid Crew

The Vinton First Aid Crew provided standby medical support for the Dogwood Festival during all of the events from April 26-30.

The members of the Vinton First Aid Crew extend their thanks to the various organizations, companies, and people who helped make this year’s Vinton Dogwood Festival a safe and enjoyable experience for thousands.

“Just like the festival itself, providing standby medical support for the festival and associated events truly is a team effort,” said Chief Wayne Guffey.

The rescue squad provided standby medical support for all five days and nights of the carnival, as well as the Thursday night concert at the Farmers’ Market.

On Saturday, members of the crew’s EMS bicycle team rode the 5K Dogwood Run/Walk to ensure participant safety. The team later staffed positions around downtown Vinton during Saturday’s main festival events including the parade.

The crew also made use of a four-wheel-drive all-terrain vehicle kindly loaned by the Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department. The ATV allowed for quick deployment of heavy resources like water and manpower, as well as rapid response to emergencies in crowded areas.

Crew members were supplemented Saturday — typically the festival’s busiest day — by support from the Cave Spring Rescue Squad and Carilion Clinic Patient Transportation. Combined with additional resources from Roanoke County Fire & Rescue and an everyday excellent partnership with the paid staff with whom they share our station, the crew was able to ensure the following resources during Saturday afternoon’s 90 degree heat and high humidity:

  • Five ambulances
  • One quick response command SUV
  • One utility truck stocked with rehydration fluids and medical assessment gear
  • Three bicycle units with first-response medical gear
  • One on-foot team with first-response medical gear
  • An ATV for manpower and patient transport

The crew’s ability to effectively rehydrate parade participants Saturday — not to mention EMS and other public safety officials themselves — was greatly aided by a gracious donation from Kroger of roughly 3,000 pounds, or 1.5 tons, of water and soda.

Due to the heat and humidity, EMS officials ultimately distributed approximately 700 bottles of water to parade participants and spectators, as well as roughly 20 gallons of other rehydration fluids. Boy Scout Troop 235, sponsored by Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church, provided assistance at the parade finish line with this effort.

EMS personnel transported one parade participant to a local hospital and evaluated several others.

Guffey attributed the relatively limited number of heat-related emergencies, given the number of participants and spectators, to good pre-planning and teamwork among agencies and organizations.

“That teamwork is what makes Vinton so special,” he said.

Despite the inherent challenges that go into pre-planning for any large event, Guffey said it’s worthwhile knowing crew volunteers and partner agencies get to help the town and those who make the trip in to visit.

“The Vinton First Aid Crew exists to serve,” he said. “It’s what we do and who we are.”

The Vinton First Aid Crew is an all-volunteer rescue squad with more than 50 active members serving the Town of Vinton, Roanoke County, and the surrounding region. Founded in 1939, the crew provides basic life support (BLS) and advanced life support (ALS) medical response in addition to other specialty areas, including crash rescue, incident rehab, and disaster response.

Volunteers responded to more than 1,130 calls in 2016, totaling more than 20,200 man-hours. For more information on the Vinton First Aid Crew contact: Wayne Guffey, Chief wguffey@vintonems.org or Jordan Fifer, Public Relations Officer, jfifer@vintonems.org .