02/01/04 — Mozingo named Mount Olive Rescuer of the Year

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Mozingo named Mount Olive Rescuer of the Year

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 1, 2004 2:01 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Phyllis Mozingo is the 2003 Rescue Person of the Year for Mount Olive's emergency services squad.

Ms. Mozingo has been with the Mount Olive squad four years. She spent many a night at the squad building and attended all the meetings faithfully, said squad Capt. Charles Swinson. "She's always willing to help when she's called upon."

About 30 people attended the installation banquet Friday night in the Southern Belle Restaurant. Master of ceremonies Debbie Hennessee said the crowd of volunteers gets a little smaller each year.

"There have been a lot of changes this year," said Ms. Hennessee. Mount Olive was the last squad to merge with Wayne County.

Squad Capt. Charles Swinson said last year was a trying time for Mount Olive Emergency Services and the members, "just like it was for the other four squads in Wayne County" during the merger with the county. "Some were bitter. Some were hurt to the point it was almost destroying to them. They made statements that now they'd probably want to retract."

But the system is functioning, and he feels that as time passes, the change will be accepted.

Ben Sellars, who helped get the Mount Olive squad started in 1958, recalls the squad's first dinner meeting in the old Steak Barn when money was tight. "I went to pay the man, and I thought, 'Boy! If you don't stop punching that thing, I'm going to jail.' It was $1.25 more than we had. The next day, I went to Wachovia, and I put $1.50 in there."

The squad today isn't quite that broke, said Swinson. The early volunteers made a lot of sacrifices, he said. "It cost them money and a lot of hardships to volunteer."

He told the volunteers in the room they're the backbone of the squad, "and we appreciate what you do."

If not for the volunteers, the county would be in trouble, he said. But the volunteer squad now receives no support, he said.

Some who used to give significant donations have stopped, since the merger. But he said the volunteer squad has its own federal tax identification number, and donations can be written off taxes now.

Several volunteers were honored for their years of service to the squad, including Ralph Shroeder, for 15 years of service, and Frances Worth and Leonard Pearsall, both with 20 years.

The squad's new Basic Life Support team, which went to the state competition for the first time last year, was honored for taking fourth place the first time out. Two team members, trainer Phyllis Mozingo and Capt. David Lane, received plaques of appreciation. The other member, Dawn Stancil, was unable to attend the banquet.

Keith Harris, the regional manager of the state Office of Emergency Medical Services, installed the new officers: Capt. Swinson, 1st Lt. Phyllis Mozingo, 2d Lt. David Lane, Lts. Frances Worth, Ann Callan and Bill Eubanks, and Debbie Hennessee, the secretary and treasurer. Mrs. Callan's husband, Tom, was made an honorary member of the squad.