Donut Days Friday through Sunday

Karen Danner
No. 1: Erica Greskoviak, a sixth grader at Chillicothe Elementary Center, took top prize in the poster contest sponsored by Rescue 33 with her rendition of a Rescue 33 ambulance with doughnut wheels.

Green is the color synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day.

This year, green also signifies the color of money needed by Chillicothe’s all-volunteer ambulance service — Rescue 33.

To keep the squad running adequately, and at no charge to the communities it serves, Rescue 33 funding is a necessity, said president Ron Hedden.

During Donut Days, Friday through Sunday, doughnuts still go for $4 a dozen.

Available are the usual favorites — plain, white and chocolate iced, cinnamon, powdered sugar, sprinkle and miniatures.

Each doughnut purchased represents part of the squad’s annual goal.

Last year’s more than $41,000 raised during Donut Days went a long way in trying to break even.

Claud-Elen Days, originally begun to support a free ambulance service, donated $12,000 to the squad.

In addition, more than $17,000 is raised during Ted Bailey’s annual breakfast for Rescue 33, and funds are garnered during Rib Classic.

Still, money is tight, despite Jack Weber’s estate being left to the squad.

The total value of the estate was about $250,000. The house will be kept and possibly rented, said Hedden. The cash from the estate has been invested.

“We still need money,” said Hedden. “The problems facing 33 are two-fold. One is membership, and the other is the finances involved with going to a paid service.That’s why we’re investing the Weber money.”

Membership and money

Even with 33 first-responder or higher volunteers, Rescue 33 finds times when members are not available to make calls.

Currently, eight people are trainees.

“Keeping volunteers is the hardest thing there is going,” said Hedden. “The alternative to volunteers is paid people, in which you still have the same problems of having enough people at the right times to fill the schedule.”

Hiring some paid emergency medical technicians will not solve the problem either.

“If you have all paid people, you’ve still got to have people available to supervise them,” said Hedden, who also works full-time, as do many other Rescue 33 members.

An easy solution is not forthcoming for the squad.

“So, I guess the easiest and cheapest way is to remain with the volunteer system. But it takes more volunteers than the 33 we’ve got,” said Hedden.

With the constant increase in the cost of supplies for each of the squad’s three ambulances, upkeep, equipment and gasoline, as well as the possibility some EMTs will have to be paid, money is increasingly the key to survival.

“That’s why we’re not buying new ambulances,” said Hedden.

Looking forward

With eternal optimism, Rescue 33 members will fire up the cookers Thursday night, thinking perhaps this year will set another record in fundraising.

While some continue to cook, other EMTs must answer any calls received, sometimes requiring all three ambulances to be in service.

With the current EMT shortage, Hedden finds keeping the squad’s schedule full of EMTs to make the calls difficult.

With only two drivers, and eight people currently in training, the squad operates pretty much bare bones.

Add to that the usual day-to-day problems that arise from volunteers changing jobs, illness, family responsibilities, and Hedden looks at a mountain of scheduling obstacles.

On Friday night, members of the Illinois Valley Central High School Key Club and adult leaders from the Kiwanis Club will man the cookers during an all-night lock-in at the Rescue 33 garage.

The next day, the Altrusa International Club of Chillicothe and volunteerss with the Chillicothe Fire Department, along with hundreds of individuals, will lend a hand with a lot of the work.

Volunteers cook, ice, box and sell to meet the demands of the public.

Doughnuts will be delivered to homes by calling Marla Goard ahead at 274-8805.

Residents can pick them up by the box at Kroger and many other locations throughout Chillicothe.

By Sunday afternoon, the Rescue 33 garage will be scrubbed clean of the flour, shortening and icing coating the floor and walls in the building housing two ambulances.

All ears await the final total raised.

If all goes as planned, Rescue 33 can get closer to, or maybe exceed, its goal — “to pay our expenses and make a little extra,” said Hedden.

At present, if Rescue 33 is unable to respond to a call, they must rely on Lacon-Sparland Rescue 52 or AMT in Peoria.

“The overall goal of Rescue 33 has always been to be a free service — no charge for our services.”