The Vinton First Aid Crew celebrated their 80th anniversary of service to the Vinton community and beyond at Braeloch Lodge on October 20. Few in the community have not been touched in some way by the services of the First Aid Crew over that time.
Their motto has long been “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” from John 15:13.
In fact, the First Aid Crew formed in 1939 when “someone collapsed at Vinton Baptist Church” and the congregation “came to the rescue.”
According to “Roanoke County Fire and Rescue: A Reflection of 150 years,” on October 5, 1939, 18 men with a strong desire to help their friends and neighbors in need met in the basement of Vinton Baptist and officially established the Vinton First Aid Crew, Inc., as one of the first sixteen volunteer first aid organizations in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Herman L. Horn was elected to serve as the first president.
“Their beginnings were humble,” the book states. Members “relied on personal vehicles and a 1934 panel truck, a donated first aid kit, and a few pieces of homemade equipment.”
The crew received its first “real” piece of equipment on December 2, 1939—an H & H inhalator donated by Sam Oakey of Oakey’s Funeral Service.
Under the leadership of O.P. Shilling, 17 of the original members completed an American Red Cross Advanced First Aid Course held at Vinton Baptist. All 17 passed and earned Advanced Certificates. Guy Gearhart volunteered to serve as chief.
A Board of Trustees was appointed to offer guidance to the organization, along with four elected officials who held their first meeting on January 4, 1940 at the Vinton Courthouse.
In 1940 the crew was recognized in the Virginia First Aider Magazine.
Throughout its history, the Vinton First Aid Crew has not only accomplished a great deal but has experienced many changes. Membership has now grown to 51 volunteers (with eight applications pending) who protect the citizens not only in the Town of Vinton, but in East Roanoke County and beyond.
The Vinton First Aid Crew assists with all types of calls ranging from assisting the Fire Department with house fires to natural disasters, to car wrecks, to assisting someone who has fallen or needs their vitals checked.
The Vinton First Aid Crew also assists with standbys at William Byrd Football games and the 4th of July Fireworks. They also assist with public education to have citizens be more informed.
In the last few years the crew has added new equipment to their fleet, such as an auto loader for their stretcher to assist in loading and unloading patients safely. They also purchased a UTV that many have seen at the WBHS football games; the vehicle also assists them with reaching patients on the greenway and at Explore Park.
“It has been an honor to serve this town for 80 years and to keep serving,” said the crew.
At their installation of officers’ ceremony in June 2019, Chief Wayne Guffey said, “This October will be our 80th anniversary. Not many organizations can say that. The one thing that has not changed is the dedication of the crew members.”
Officers for 2019-2020 year who were installed by Vinton Mayor Brad Grose at that June meeting include:
- Rescue Chief Wayne Guffey
- President Doug Adams
- Vice-President, Sergeant, and Assistant Treasurer Jason Peters
- Assistant Rescue Chief Chris Sayre
- Captain Mitch Vaughan
- First Lieutenant for Training Brandan Arthur
- Second Lieutenant for Mechanical/Medical Tom Philpott
- Treasurer Sydney Myers
- Secretary Sandy Sayre
- Chaplain Tom Philpott
- Public Information Officer Taylor Ralph
- Registered Agent Bob Wingfield
Members of the Board of Directors were also recognized: Chief Guffey, Doug Adams, Jason Peters, Chris Sayre, Mitch Vaughan, Sydney Myers, Sandy Sayre, Tom Philpott, Bob Wingfield, Brandon Bushnell, Galen Conner, Chris McCarty, Albin Hammond, Bob Patterson, and Craig Sheets.
In 2018, the Vinton First Aid Crew donated 23,277 man-hours of service to the community and answered 1265 calls for service.
The Vinton Historical Society honored the Vinton First Aid Crew at the Vinton War Memorial on October 15. The First Aid Crew gave a presentation on the history of the organization. Brandan Arthur was the main speaker, assisted by Chief Guffey. Sydney Myers provided much of the information for the presentation.
There was a surprise presentation by Kay Flippen of Vinton whose father was a charter member of the crew– Edison “Johnny” Arrington. She donated his “Appreciation for Service” plaque and photo the crew had been presented a number of years ago. Betty Green Gresham whose father, Moroni Green, was an original charter member, also attended the event.
The Vinton Volunteer First Aid Crew depends on donations from the community and has recently mailed out its annual fund drive letters seeking financial support. Be sure to give generously. More information is available at www.vintonems.com.