The Vinton First Aid Crew held its annual Christmas dinner and Officer Installation Ceremony
on Dec. 14 at the Vinton War Memorial.
In 1939, seventeen 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. It was one
of the first 10 volunteer first aid organizations in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Their stated
goals were “to save life, administer first aid, and teach safety,” which they have continued to
accomplish throughout the years. The crew celebrated its 84 th anniversary in October.
Vinton Mayor Brad Grose installed the VFAC officers for 2024: Chief Chris Sayre, Assistant
Chief Aaron Albertson, 1st Lt. Brandan Arthur, 2nd Lt. Ethan Hobart, Sgt. Trace Poindexter,
Secretary Megan Sayre, Chaplain Tom Philpott, and Public Information Officer Steve Thrasher.
Members of the Board of Directors recognized were President Jason Peters, Vice President Steve
Thrasher, Treasurer Mitch Vaughan, Asst. Treasurer Jason Peters, Registered Agent Tom Philpott, Secretary Sandy Sayre, Rescue Chief Chris Sayre, Asst. Chief Aaron Albertson, Jimmy Poindexter, Nicole Waldin, Albin Hammond, Galen Conner, Paul St. Clair, Chris Stull, Mayor Brad Grose, and Craig Sheets.
Mayor Grose thanked all the First Aid Crew members for their devoted service to the community
and the thousands of lives they have touched since their founding. He described them as “one of
the pillars of our community. The Town of Vinton wouldn’t be the same without all you folks.
No group represents the town better than the Vinton First Aid Crew.”
He also described the VFAC as a “big family” as a whole, and with multiple generations of
Vinton families continuing the tradition of service in the crew.
Chief Sayre noted that 2023 had been a very busy year with an impressive gain in membership—
12 new members in just the past three months. The VFAC has received a new truck after
working on the project for about two years.
Philpott paid tribute to the members the crew has lost this past year— Greg Meinel, who passed
away in February at age 51, and Roy McCarty, who passed away in October at age 85. Meinel’s
sister Dawn Layne and his niece Brittney Layne attended the ceremony and were recognized.
Meinel served with the crew for over 31 years, recruited just out of high school from William
Byrd in the Class of 1990. He had a passion for running calls his entire life. He was awarded a
Lifetime Membership in the VFAC for his years of service.
Meinel served in multiple positions and on multiple committees during his time with the crew,
including as First Lieutenant of Training and Captain of Membership. He decided to take his
career a step further and obtained his Associate’s Degree in Health Sciences from Virginia
Western Community College, then attended the Jefferson College of Health Sciences to
complete a Paramedic to Registered Nurse upgrade. He spent most of his nursing career as an
ICU nurse at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. He also served as an instructor for Carilion,
teaching Staff Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support,
even traveling to other Carilion hospitals to teach
Roy McCarty, Jr. lived a life of public service to the community. He served in the U.S. Navy,
was a lifetime member of the Vinton First Aid Crew (starting with the Junior First Aid Crew),
worked as a sergeant in the Vinton Police Department, and then taught special education and
served as the job development coordinator for Roanoke County Schools. McCarty also served as
a member of Vinton Town Council for many years.
Chief Sayre and Vice President Steve Thrasher next presented the most coveted awards to crew
members: Brady Poindexter (still a high school student) was named “Rookie of the Year,” Trace
Poindexter was named “Member of the Year,” and Aaron Albertson was chosen as “Officer of
the Year” (for the second year). The awards are especially meaningful as recipients are chosen
by the entire crew.
Steve Thrasher next recognized the nine charter members of the Vinton Junior Rescue Squad
from 1974: Chris Stull, Kenneth Drewery, Terry Fuqua, Ralph Hargis, Perry Spangler, Mike
Huddleston, Ray Sloan, and Danny Wood. Four (Stull, Drewery, Fuqua, and Hargis) were able to
attend. (Member Gary Honaker is deceased.)
Thrasher commented that in moving boxes at the station, he had come across the plaque
identifying the charter Junior Rescue Squad members. He noted that in 1973, VFAC members
decided to establish a junior crew. Members Doug Adams and Mike Chewning visited William
Byrd High School during study halls to recruit teens to serve in the crew. These nine expressed
an interest, prepared for, and passed the American Red Cross Advanced First Aid course and
CPR training, and qualified as junior members. Philpott was their advisor.
Mayor Grose presented a proclamation from Vinton Town Council for each of the original nine
members thanking them for their “outstanding commitment to public service, especially for
service to the First Aid Crew. Partly because of the accomplishments of these charter members,
the Vinton First Aid Crew has had a provision for a Junior Crew continuously since that time.
Many young people have served in the Junior Crew since 1974 and many have gone on to serve
in the Senior Crew. Many have also gone on to serve our community and nation in a variety of
public services including emergency services and the military.”
After the installation ceremony, Santa arrived (in fire boots), bearing gifts for all the children
present. They were able to sit on his lap (including the mayor and crew members) to whisper
their wish lists and have their photos taken.
The Vinton First Aid Crew is a non-profit organization which operates on tax-deductible
donations from the community which provide funding for equipment, training, and medical
Donations can be mailed to Vinton First Aid Crew, P.O. Box 314, Vinton, Va. 24179 or dropped
off at the VFAC building located at 120 West Jackson Avenue in Vinton. You can also link your
Kroger Plus card to the Vinton First Aid Crew as an ongoing donation. The instructions on how
to do so are linked here https://www.kroger.com/i/community/community-rewards . (The name of
the organization is the Vinton First Aid Crew.)
Visit the VFAC website at www.vintonems.com or their Facebook page for more information on the organization and their services.
The 2023 Vinton First Aid Crew Christmas dinner was catered, as is tradition, by Country
Kitchen of Christiansburg.