For over 10 years, Captain Ken Colwell has been striving to improve the quality, training and equipment at Gonzales EMS-Rescue. It appears his work—and the work of his volunteers—is paying off.
“We were down to just four or five volunteers a while back, and things were pretty tough,” Captain Colwell said last week from the EMS office. “We didn’t have the appropriate gear or tools we needed to do our job, and we certainly didn’t have enough volunteers.
“However, now we are up to around 25 volunteers at Rescue, and they are going gangbusters to get things done.”
According to Colwell, the Rescue volunteers have stepped up and hosted a number of fundraisers to help upgrade equipment, gear and training. In a few weeks, Captain Colwell will be able to send five team members to be certified at an extraction class in Pleasanton. They have been able to purchase six new pairs of gloves and helmets. But there is still more to be done and more needs to be met, Colwell says.
“Rescue funds itself,” said Captain Colwell. “Everything Rescue does and spends is money raised by the Rescue volunteers. Many of them have had experiences where Rescue may have helped or saved them or someone close to them and they want to give something back.”
Captain Colwell says that while things are much better today at EMS-Rescue, there are still lots of needs to be met.
“We are the swift water rescue team for Gonzales County, and we don’t have the appropriate gear for that,” Captain Colwell said. “We are in desperate need of vests, helmets, safety gear and whistles so that all of our members have the necessary equipment to perform their mission.
“In addition, we need safety suits, pants and helmets for the team. For example, if we are called out to an accident along the side of the road and one of our volunteers has to get down-and-dirty on their hands and knees, this type of gear will protect them from broken glass and other hazards.”
There are high-priced needs as well. Captain Colwell says Rescue would like a smaller Rescue truck to relieve the burden on the big truck they now have. The smaller truck would be more economical and easier to maneuver, but the price tag is $80,000 to $120,000.
“I have a passion for Rescue,” Captain Colwell said. “I was raised in a family that had ties to the Fire Department and EMS in another county, and it’s in my blood. I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little kid.
“If EMS-Rescue wasn’t here, it would definitely be felt in the community and it would make a noticeable difference on the community. We make between 10-20 Rescue calls a month throughout the county, and we are happy to help. I would like to thank the community for all they have done to help us. They have been so supporting and I want everyone to know how grateful we all are here.”
There are some fundraisers coming up that will benefit Rescue. On April 20 they will be hosting a bake sale at Walmart, and are hoping to add HEB as a bake sale site. On May 11 at Independence Park, the Rescue volunteers will be selling plates of beef and chicken enchiladas.