The idea of forming a rescue squad in the City of Petersburg
came about when an article appeared in the February, 1945, issue of The Reader’s
Digest concerning the activities of the Roanoke Life Saving Crew, organized and
directed by its Captain, Julian S. Wise.
The Petersburg Junior Chamber of Commerce reviewed this article during a
meeting on April 5, 1945. W. Roy Smith,
President of the Jaycees that year, appointed a committee to visit the Roanoke
operation and to report their findings at the next Jaycee meeting.
April 5, 1945
W. Roy Smith
Charles A. Ryburn, Jr.
In a resolution, passed unanimously, the Jaycees promised
sponsorship of such an organization. The
original committee, augmented by K. E Morris, invited the mayors of Petersburg,
Colonial Heights, and Ettrick, along with potential first aid instructors,
presidents of local civic organizations, and area medical personnel, to attend
an organization meeting at the Petersburg YMCA on May 18, 1945. At this meeting the crew was formed and the
name, SOUTHSIDE VIRGINIA EMEGENCY CREW, was adopted. The first official meeting of the new crew
was held on May 25, 1945. At that
meeting plans for instructing all members in first aid were developed.
Charter Crew Members
May 17, 1945
Herman E. Andrews
Howard S. Holmes
B. Jarvis Sr.
Leonard S. McCants
T. T. Musgrove, Jr.
Clyde H. Scott
Frank J. Slate
On June 9, 1945 the new organization elected a
Board of Trustees to handle financial matters and other affairs in the interest
of the crew. Business and professional
men in the area were elected to the board.
Charter Board Members
June 9, 1945
W. H. Caldwell
John D. Meade
M. Bruce Rose
L. M. Tennant
After initial training the crew offered its services to Petersburg,
Colonial Heights, Ettrick, Dinwiddie County, Prince George County, and
Chesterfield County. The organization
was financed through the generous donations of individuals, organizations,
businesses, and industries.
The crew acquired an unused fire station on Bank Street as
its headquarters. The first pieces of equipment
were a first aid truck, various types of first aid supplies, an adult iron
lung, a child’s iron lung, gas masks, respirators, and oxygen tents. Feeling a
need to expand, the crew established a substation in the City of Hopewell in
1947; however, about a year later, that city organized its own crew under the
name of the Hopewell Emergency Crew.
By 1951 the crew had outgrown its quarters due to an
increase in calls and through acquiring additional equipment. The Board of Trustees raised money for a new
headquarters that was built at 415 Wythe St. Over the next fifteen years the crew
grew in manpower, equipment, and emergency calls. Again, larger quarters were needed. On March 6, 1967, Board Member Frank Harris
was appointed to chair a fund raising campaign to finance the building of a new
headquarters. The response of the
municipalities, businesses, industries, civic organizations, professionals, and
citizens was immediate and generous.
On December 8, 1968, John H. VanLandingham, Jr., President
of the Board, presented the keys to the new building at 425 Graham Road to T.
T. Msgrove, Jr., Captain of the Crew, at a ribbon cutting ceremony. The building was built on a tract of land
that is adjacent to the then new I-85.
As times changed and as members were unable to staff
ambulances during the daytime work hours, the board of trustees in July 1989,
elected to employ personnel to answer EMS calls from 6am-6pm.
Today SVEC serves as the primary EMS agency for the city of
Petersburg answering over 8000 EMS calls for service each year.