YMCA group donates air compressor to the fire department

Hugh Durden of the YMCA (from left), firefighter Justin Pledger and Cpl. Eric Kines smile at Moe’s Original BBQ in front of an air compressor donated to the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department’s Water Rescue Team by the Y-Knots group at the YMCA.

The YMCA group the Y-Knots, a team of women who meet for philanthropic projects once a month, donated a $1,500 air compressor to the Rome-Floyd Fire Department’s water rescue team to assist with efficient water rescue.

The group presented the compressor to the fire department on Wednesday at Moe’s Original BBQ.

The fire department reached out to the YMCA Aquatics program in 2018 to expand the water rescue program.

“They were using a pressure tank to start with,” said Hugh Durden, a volunteer with the YMCA’s Aquatics program. “It’s very limiting.”

Without an air compressor on the back of a water rescue boat, water rescuers can only stay under water for about 30 minutes, which can limit the safety of a rescue.

“With the compressor, we have an unlimited supply of air and it makes it safer,” said Capt. Grant Collier, who leads the water rescue team at the fire department.

According to the Collier, there’s been an increase in the need for water rescue as almost 2,000 people use the rivers for recreational activities on a given weekend.

“There are a lot of inexperienced people on the river that don’t realize how dangerous it can be,” Collier said.

He recalled a rescue mission where almost 200 people had to be pulled from the Coosa River during a failed attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the longest line of water inflatables.

Fire department officials realized they would need the equipment during the training program, so they contacted the Y-Knots. The group members sought donations from the community.

“People gave because we all know people on the river,” said Cathy Strickland, a member of the Y-Knots.

She reached out to her Sunday school classmates at First Baptist Church to raise money for the air compressor. The group began raising the money in May and reached their goal in June.

“We’re grateful,” said Collier.

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