After 61 years, the Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad has a new name – “Knox County Rescue.”
The squad was officially chartered by the state of Tennessee on Jan. 8, 1958, after getting its start in 1956. In the late 1990s the word “emergency” was added to the squad’s original name. As of May 1, 2019, the new state charter is for Knox County Rescue.
Dr. Russ Frazier, Knox County Rescue’s chief, said the change was done for several reasons: “For a long time our name has been confused with other organizations here with the word volunteer in it – mostly by the media. Some people don’t associate our name as a ‘volunteer’ organization referring to our volunteers versus being part of the Volunteer State. And it is now an accurate brand recognition of who we serve. We serve Knox County as a whole and really don’t do much inside the city of Knoxville except water rescues.”
Knox County Rescue’s budget is approximately $650,000, and $425,000 of that comes from Knox County. The rest comes from the city, United Way and donations.
Frazier also noted that the change is not meant to downplay the importance of roles played by KCR’s cadre of volunteers, who number roughly 90 now. “Our great volunteers are the lifeblood and backbone of this organization, and we could not do the job we do without them,” he said. “Their skills, dedication and contributions they make for our community are pretty incredible.”
The new name is visible on their Facebook page and soon will be reflected on their website. “We are not going to spend a lot of money changing all of the logos and names on our vehicles,” Frazier said. “We’ll keep what we have. As new trucks and vehicles are needed, those will reflect (the name) Knox County Rescue.”
Knox County Rescue’s staff and volunteers are trained and equipped to provide all essential emergency-rescue services, including Emergency Quick Response, Vehicle Extrication, Dive and Swift-Water Rescue, Trench and Structural Building Collapse, Cave and Vertical Rescue, Search Rescue, Heavy Rescue, Technical Rescue and Support Services. “All of these services require hundreds of hours of specialty training and certifications that must be continuously monitored and updated,” Frazier said.
If you are interested in being a Knox County Rescue volunteer, you can call their main number at 865-546-4852.
Tom King has had a long career at newspapers in Tennessee, Texas and California. He started writing for KnoxTNToday in 2017.