FRYEBURG, Maine — Fifty years ago a small, dedicated group of volunteer residents organized Fryeburg Rescue.
Some of the original founding members are still around, while others have passed or moved on. But the good work and foundation they put in place is still helping the five communities of Fryeburg, Brownfield, Lovell and Stow, Maine, and Chatham in New Hampshire.
Over the years, 245 members have been involved. Web Fox was our first leader, known then as our captain, and he faithfully served with Fryeburg Rescue until his passing.
He, along with many others, is sorely missed.
In the early days, we utilized a borrowed bay in the firehouse, at the time located on Portland Street in the now Spice and Grain building. A red phone system alerted the squad to a call for help.
We eventually took over the entire building when the Fryeburg Fire Department moved in 1975 to its current location, the old A&P building on Main Street. Public safety has come a long way since then with regional dispatch and dedicated radio frequencies, as well as the equipment and modalities we use to care for patients.
Our next move to our current building on Bridgton Road took place in 1993.
Dick Fox was instrumental in seeing the building completed, leading a volunteer labor force using donated materials. Our latest station expansion took place in 2016 with the addition of several vehicle bays, office space, and training and crew facilities, including a section dedicated for use by the Fryeburg Police Department.
From our first 1971 International Harvester ambulance to the latest 2020 Ford unit, our current fleet consists of three ambulances, a utility support truck, a tracked and wheeled UTV, and a boat. We constantly strive to adapt to the needs of our patients and the changing times.
Through the years, we have seen our emergency medical responsibilities grow, while other tasks, like vehicle patient extrication, have been taken over by our colleagues on local fire departments with whom we’ve developed a strong working relationship. We appreciate their helping hands and those of law enforcement, always there when needed.
Community outreach has been a cornerstone of Fryeburg Rescue’s mission since the beginning.
Hosting our annual pig roast; our bike helmet give-away program; participating in alternate learning days with the school district; Halloween with the kids and parades down Main Street; having a presence at the Fryeburg Fair in addition to covering the massive increase in calls from such a recognized event; teaching CPR; and mentoring future EMS providers through our Junior Rescue program are just some of the activities we’ve weaved into the culture of our service.
Our chief for the past 17 years, Steve Goldsmith, has helped usher us into the current times, securing grants and working with the towns in our coverage area as well as mutual aid agencies, always with the best interest of our community at heart.
Our equipment, training and education are the latest and often the best available.
Keeping up with constantly changing requirements and protocols, Fryeburg Rescue has transitioned from a purely volunteer organization to a hybrid model with paid EMS providers on staff along with community members. But we’ve never forgotten our roots or our focus on patient care.
With half a century behind us, we couldn't be more thankful for your continued trust and support. Here's to the next 50 years! Be well.
Eric Meltzer has served on Fryeburg Rescue for the past 10 years.