United Way Spotlight

United Way Spotlight An agency which receives funding from United Way of Vermillion will be featured in this spotlight each week. The United Way of Vermillion Board of Directors wants the people of Vermillion to know more about the agencies that receive United Way funding and the services which they provide to the Vermillion community.

This week's featured agency is the Clay County Rescue Association which was founded to take the leadership in obtaining funding for rescue equipment to serve the needs of Vermillion's citizens during an emergency.

Prior to Oct. 21, 1973, there had been discussions regarding the need for specialized rescue equipment for the community and county by emergency service organizations. On that date, a tragic accident occurred in Clay County killing three Vermillion residents and severely injuring three others. After this accident, city and county officials, along with representatives of different emergency response agencies, met to critique the activities of that fall afternoon.

Thus, in January of 1974, the Clay County Rescue Association was officially formed to direct a fund-raising activity to purchase rescue equipment, form a rescue squad within the Vermillion Fire Department, and establish policies.

The rescue association is made up of representatives from the Vermillion Ambulance crew, the Vermillion Fire Department, the Vermillion Police Department, the Clay County Sheriff's Department, Clay County Emergency Management, the South Dakota Highway Patrol, and The University of South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

The first priority of the group was to raise the funds to purchase a Hurst hydraulic rescue tool (Jaws of Life). In a very short time, the rescue tool became a reality. The cost of this piece of equipment was $3,875. The Clay County Rescue Association raised 50 percent of the funds needed and the remainder was provided through the county. Not only did the group raise its 50 percent share, but a $400 donation by the USD Student Senate put the fund-raising drive over the $4,000 mark. Shortly thereafter, a van was purchased by Clay County in which to transport both equipment and Vermillion Fire Department rescue personnel.

Since its founding, the Clay County Rescue Association has been very active as an advisory board for funding equipment and coordinating the efforts of all agencies involved in response to emergency situations in Clay County and the surrounding area.

Today the response to emergencies has changed dramatically. With the assistance of United Way of Vermillion, the rescue association has acquired more equipment to answer the emergencies that arise today. Along with the Jaws of Life, the squad has equipment today to handle emergencies that are encountered on our roads, rivers, and farms, and in our homes and workplaces.

Since 1979, United Way of Vermillion has been an annual source of funding for the Clay County Rescue Association. The funds received from United Way have not only been used to purchase specialized equipment that is needed to handle today's emergencies but to assist in maintenance of that equipment. With United Way, the Clay County Rescue Association has been able to make a difference in providing emergency responses for citizens in need.

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