Brittney Burns — Staff Writer

Cullasaja Gorge Fire & Rescue was recognized by the North Carolina Association of Rescue and Emergency Medical Services for meeting the high professional standards for a Medium Rescue Provider.

“Your department, personnel, and the citizens of Franklin and Macon County should be very proud of this high achievement,” wrote Gordon Joyner, Executive Director of the association. “It is indeed an honor to be recognized at this level of professional rescue service.”

Cullasaja Gorge Fire & Rescue is predominantly comprised of volunteer firefighters who are committed to keeping their community safe. With 34 volunteers, Cullasaja Gorge Fire & Rescue work diligently to ensure that as many of their team members are certified in special areas such as swift water rescue. Because of the department functions primarily through volunteers, Macon County Emergency Services Director Warren Cabe noted they more than deserved the recognition.

“The department which is made up of mostly volunteers has committed a significant amount of time and effort into achieving this recognition and the dedication of these members has greatly improved the services available to residents and visitors of not just this community but the county as well,” said Cabe. “The recognition of meeting the professional standards for a medium rescue provider indicates the department has at least eight personnel who have obtained advanced rescue certifications and has an inventory of specialty equipment that allows them to perform more advanced rescue procedures.”

According to Fire Chief Paul Corbin, Cullasaja Gorge Fire & Rescue stands as one of only 108 Medium Rescue departments out of North Carolina’s more than 3,000 fire departments.

“This recognition shows the hard work that the department has been putting in to strive toward progress and plan for the future safety of Macon County,” said Corbin. “Fire service and rescue is always changing and this recognition shows that we are working hard to be prepared and better equipped as a department.”

Corbin noted that because of the recognition and being established as a Medium Rescue fire department, the opportunity for additional grant funds from the state increases which will allow the department to secure more equipment in the future.

Medium Rescue is defined as basic and some advance rescue, basic and advanced extrication, and basic life support functions as an initial responder with minimum advanced equipment and skills. At least eight of the department’s personnel must hold certification as an ERT, RT-VMR, or TR-VMR.