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Carter County, located along the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the Northeast corner of Tennessee, is the home of nearly 53,000 people and the Carter County Rescue Squad.
During the spring of 1949, the Tennessee Valley Authority completed its Watauga Dam project. TVA’s damming of the Watauga River created Watauga Lake and brought with it flood control, electricity, industries and recreation to the area. TVA’s creation of Watauga Lake, according to some local residents, also brought with it a need. That need was for a team that would be prepared to assist anyone in need at Watauga Lake. That need was to form a Rescue Squad. During the 1950’s, only a few teams in the entire country were organized, with the first squad being in Roanoke, Virginia. The leader of that squad, Julian Wise (known as the father of Rescue Squads) was invited to come to Carter Country. Wise came and met with a group of local men and he gave them ideas of how to form their own team.
It was not until a few years later when a local man drowned at the lake that the Rescue Squad was actually organized. During the early years, the Squad used an old surplus Army truck as an ambulance. The truck was later destroyed in a wreck and the Squad Captain’s personal station wagon was then used as an ambulance. The station wagon was equipped with a rollaway bed and was used to transport patients to local hospitals. As Carter County grew so did the number of calls for emergency medical attention. The Rescue Squad also grew during this time period, from a handful of dedicated volunteers to an ambulance service with paid employees that provided emergency medical services twenty four hours per day. The members also increased their education and became certified as Emergency Medical Technicians.
Today, the Carter County Rescue Squad responds to over 12,000 calls per year with a modern fleet of Advanced Life Support ambulances and various rescue vehicles staffed by a dedicated crew of highly trained Paramedics and EMT-IV’s. The Carter County Rescue Squad from its humble beginnings has developed into a Tennessee certified class “A” paramedic ambulance service that continues to strive to provide the best ambulance, rescue and emergency medical service possible and continues to meet the needs of Carter County and the Northeast Tennessee region.
Carter County is nestled in the northeast corner of the state. The county is ranked 21st in population among the 93 counties of Tennessee. The county covers approximately 341 square miles of land. Accessing the county is made possible by various state highways, city streets, and county roads. US Interstate 26 connects the county to US Interstate 81 and to the neighboring states of Virginia and North Carolina. A mid-sized municipal airport is also within the boundaries of Carter County. Gaining access to the more populated areas of the county is relatively easy. Accessing some of the mountainous and remote areas is at times more difficult. Residents and tourist of these areas find the seclusion a primary reason for being in this region.
The mountains, streams, and lakes are a bonus to those who live and work here. They can find an assortment of recreational activities for themselves and their families. Many only need to travel a short distance to their favorite spot to camp, fish, and hunt or to hike. Those who visit here can enjoy the scenery, the fresh clean air, and the slower pace of mountain living. Carter County offers hikers and backpackers over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. While trekking the “AT,” hikers can experience various levels of difficulty from easy walking along some points to rock climbing and rappelling at other points. Some hikers also recreate history as they participate in the reenactment of the “Over the Mountain Men” march from Fort Watauga at Sycamore Shoals State Park to Kings Mountain. Those who are brave enough, find that the winter climate of this region adds a new dimension to their hiking. Snow skiing and cross-country skiing is also enjoyed by many in this area.
Many acres of the Cherokee National Forrest are also within the boundaries of Carter County. The State of Tennessee also owns hundreds of acres of rugged mountain forest in the county. Two Tennessee State parks are also located in the county, the Roan Mountain State Park in Roan Mountain, and the Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton. Carter County and the Northeast Tennessee region offer a variety of recreational activities for local residents and tourist alike. Those who live here consider the assets of the mountains as priceless.
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