Hickory Rescue Squad could soon close doors after six decades

For 63 years the Hickory Rescue Squad has been ready to go at a moments notice, but the doors may soon close for the final time. 

Catawba County officials sent two letters on March 26, 2018 terminating the contract for rescue and ambulance service.

"Anger was my first reaction, equally with sadness," Chief Cameron Gardin said. 

The letters don't say why the contract is ending, but Chief Gardin believes it has to do with reported mismanagement by the rescue squad board. The former vice-president was reportedly hired to help with an audit and was paid substantially more than what was within the budget.

"Not only did he support what he charged us, but then he went to county officials and questioned their position and decisions with all the other agencies here in Catawba County. You just don't do that," Chief Gardin said. 

Chief Gardin said the actions by that board member are not reflective of the more than 30 volunteers within the rescue squad.

"Just as much here as we care about saving peoples lives, we also care where our taxpayers money goes," Chief Gardin explained. 

Calls for service will still be answered until June 30, 2018 but who responds with life saving equipment after that date is still up in the air.

"I think the biggest problem we have is we still don't have any answers. We want to know that our citizens are still going to be protected if we shut our doors," Chief Gardin said. 

Chief Gardin fears the June 30 deadline is a done deal, but that hasn't stopped him from creating a petition that residents can sign to save the rescue squad.