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From humble origins, GVFR evolved into top-flight service

When Gordon Townsend joined the newly formed Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad in the spring 1969, sheriff’s office dispatchers used landline phones to contact volunteers to respond to calls.

“They had just added the squad when I joined,” Townsend said, reflecting on his 50 years of service with the department. “Before that, funeral homes had sirens under the hood and a light they could remove” to transport patients to the nearest hospital at the time, which was Riverside Hospital (Regional Medical Center) in Newport News.

At that time, Townsend said a lot of residents saw doctors in Richmond. “From the tail end of Naxera to Medical College of Virginia was an hour-and-a-half at best,” he said. “Patients get a way better positive outcome now than they did in those days.”

Rather than going to the emergency room as is the status quo these days, in the 1960s and ’70s, many patients were transported to Dr. Raymond Brown...

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