Putnam County Rescue Squad is a volunteer agency with over 50 members. The squad provides a multitude of services such as vehicle extrication, mountain rescue, cave rescue, swift water rescue, trench rescue, and drowning recovery to the citizens of the county.
The squad is self-supporting and uses donations from an annual fundraiser to maintain its operations.
The Putnam County Rescue Squad began in 1952 and was established as a function of Civil Defense as a volunteer unit working to help the citizens of Putnam County during times of emergency or disaster. Its primary duties were search and rescue. It began first with one vehicle, an old van donated by the local telephone company, and a dozen members at most with almost no equipment, official training, or certifications.
One of the first additional functions added was water rescue with the acquisition of a boat and trailer. At that time, it was primarily used for dragging for drowning victims. Also added as an emergency response service was extrication cutting victims out of wrecked vehicles. The Rescue Squad obtained its first Jaws of Life, seen to the left, in the late 1970s, which was a vast improvement over hand tools.
In the past few years, other functions that have emerged within the squad are swiftwater rescue, diving, rappelling/high angle/mountain rescue, school bus rescue, structural collapse/trench rescue, rural search and rescue/basic visual tracking, GPS land navigation, farm rescue, and stormspotting. The squad now has a total of 14 vehicles in four locations in the county for more rapid response, 2 boats and 1 swiftwater rescue raft, 2 four-wheelers, 2 Gators, one of which has a Medi-Bed attached for patient transport out of rugged areas, 1 Polaris Ranger, and 4 equipment trailers all loaded with different types of equipment to enable them to perform all of the different types of rescues. The squad has grown to a total of 59 members, all certified in different functions and types of responses. The squad is still an all-volunteer orginization donating their time and hard work to benefit the citizens of not only Putnam County but surrounding counties through mutual aid.
Vehicle Extrication - Extrication is our Rescue Squad's primary call for service. Our members are specially trained through the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squad's Rescue College. This includes Basic Extrication, Advanced Extrication, Farm Rescue, School Bus Rescue, and Big Rig Rescue. This team is trained to extricate a person from wreckage in a variety of ways to prevent further injury to the patient at hand.
First Responders - The First Responders are the latest addition to the Rescue Squad. This is a group of medically trained individuals who are Paramedics, EMTs, and First Responders. These people respond when there will be a delay from EMS or if the call warrants extra medical personnel. This program was created in October 2010.
Swift Water Rescue - The Swift Water Rescue program is a team of professionally trained water rescue personnel, who received their training on the Ocoee and Hiwassee Rivers in East Tennessee. This team is capable of working in fast moving water, such as flooded creeks, roads, or larger rivers to remove people who have become trapped in their vehicles or homes due to rising waters. Over the past few years, this team has had a significant increase in their number of calls for service in Putnam County and throughout Middle Tennessee.
Rope Rescue - The Putnam County Tactical Rope Rescue Team is a dedicated highly trained group of individuals ready to respond in a moments notice to the most challenging of rescues. The members are trained in up-to-date methods of rescue by the state instructors and use NFPA certified rescue equipment. Our members are able to perform difficult rope rescues in challenging environments including but not limited to: high angle cliffs/bluffs rescues, cave rescues, sinkhole rescues, technical swift water rescues, and industrial rescues.
Trench, Structural Collapse, and Confined Space - The Trench, Structural Collapse, and Confined Space Team is a unique team who are trained to rescue victims from a variety of accidents. This team has undergone vigorous training to ensure they are able to rescue a victim with regards to safety to themselves, other team members, as well as the victim. This team is especially used in the event of major structure damage from severe weather.
Search and Rescue - The Search and Rescue Team is utilized when a family's loved one, no matter what age or reason, is reported missing. This team often works in the most extreme weather conditions and/or terrain. The personnel of this team are highly trained in search operations and have tracking capabilities.
Dive Team - The Dive Team responds to drownings and a variety of under water searches. They also assist local law enforcement agencies for underwater evidence searches.
Special Operations - Our Rescue Squad does several things that do not fall into a team. This includes Storm Spotters who assist the Emergency Management Agency in times of severe and inclement weather, assisting the Emergency Medical Services with manpower when requested, and assisting the Emergency Medical Services in the winter during snow storms to reach patients where the ambulance is unable to get to. Rescue Squad personnel also volunteer to help with community events and fundraisers where extra crews are needed to block streets or direct traffic.