Madison-Rockingham Rescue Squad struggles to survive

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MADISON, N.C. — Volunteer rescue squads in Rockingham County say they're struggling to survive.

The Madison-Rockingham Rescue Squad along with squads in Eden and Reidsville say they’re having a hard time paying for gear, equipment, and other items due to a lack of funding.

The groups are trying to work with county and city leaders to come up with a way for services to be publicly funded like police, fire, and EMS.

Rusty Gray, chief of Madison-Rockingham Rescue Squad, says he and other volunteers respond to about 3,200 calls a year from car crashes to water rescues and other emergencies, often backing up the county's EMS.

But Gray says the squad is having a hard time operating on such a high level with low-funding.

"That's where we are, struggling to survive," Gray said.

The squad's yearly budget is $125,000.

But even with some county and city funding along with donations from the United Way, the squad still falls short nearly $37,000.

Volunteers have been holding fundraisers like cook outs and an annual car show to raise money for equipment, training classes, and gear, according to Gray.

“Sometimes it seems like we're spending just as much time fundraising as we are providing emergency care," he said.

Gray says his squad along with the county's two other rescue squads are pushing hard to get publicly funded like police and fire departments.

"We just feel like we deserve to be funded," Gray said.

County officials are working on a plan to get the cities more involved in funding the rescue squads by possibly implementing a small tax or service fee.

"A lot of citizens and elected officials have no clue of exactly what the rescue squad does, what they mean to the citizens and this county,” said Craig Travis, chairman of the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners.

"It's time for changes to happen," Gray said.