Rescue squad finds a home in Midlothian
“On a hot day, you still knew it was a horse stable,” says Matthews, a 52-year veteran with the rescue squad and a retired captain with the Chesterfield County Police Department. So it was with a sense of history that Matthews participated in the rescue squad’s year-long renovation of its newest home: the old Midlothian Station 5 firehouse on U.S. Route 60.
Starting this week, the rescue squad will begin running calls from Station 5 in Midlothian Village, sharing the structure with Chesterfield Fire and EMS. For Midlothian residents, it means an ambulance can be at their door three minutes sooner than before.
Originally erected in 1949 by the Midlothian Volunteer Fire Department and its Ladies Auxiliary, Station 5 has been expanded five times, most recently in 1993. In December 2015, the volunteer fire department ceased to exist, and donated the 5,800-square-foot structure to Forest View.
“They gave us the building to carry on the tradition of volunteerism in Midlothian,” explains Dave Johnston, deputy chief of planning and facilities with the rescue squad. “Assuming control of this building is going to put an ambulance in Midlothian on nights and weekends. Previously there wasn’t one.”
The rescue squad has spent the past year undertaking a large-scale renovation of the building, including giving it a new roof, flooring, kitchen and living quarters, and repainting most of the building. And don’t get Matthews started on what the building’s vehicle bay used to look like.
“For lack of a better word, it was a dungeon,” says Matthews, who is Station 5’s project manager.
Station 5 is one of three stations Forest View currently operates with its 80 active members. The squad – which was founded in 1955 – operates from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, and from 6 p.m. Friday evening through 6 a.m. Monday on the weekends. The rescue squad fields roughly 60 to 70 calls a week, and Matthews says they’re always looking for volunteers.
“The people I’ve met in this organization, you can’t compare,” Matthews says.
Volunteer Jerry Draucker says the squad has had a profound influence on his life.
“It changed my life by [getting me to go] into medical research,” says Draucker, a retired researcher of emerging medicines at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Michigan.
For Johnston, who began volunteering with Forest View at age 21 and is now employed as a lieutenant with the Hanover County Fire-EMS Department, continuing to volunteer is a way to connect with his roots.
“This is where I got my start,” Johnston says. “It was really important to me not to forget where I came from.”
Station 5 will host an open house for the community on May 21 at 1 p.m. ¦