Don and Ed have served as volunteer rescue squad EMTs for generations. Now Ed is saying goodbye.

Posted at 4:18 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 16:18:09-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Tuckahoe Rescue Squad EMTs Ed Farrish and Don Unger have responded to car crashes, cardiac arrests, and everything in between for decades.

"I’ve been riding with Ed for 50 years now,” Don Unger said. “I’ve known Ed almost since literally Day One.”

Unger joined the squad in 1973.

Farrish teamed up with Tuckahoe in February 1966.

It is a job where lives hang in the balance and seconds count.

"We had a patient last week. And I’ll lean up between the cut-through between the back and front and I’ll say ‘Ed, I don’t want to stop for any red lights on the way to the hospital. He knows what I mean," Unger said.

Don and Ed Tuckahoe Rescue Squad

The partners have provided this service for a combined 109 years.

“I rode the first day and I’m riding today,” Farrish said.

They serve in roles that define them.

“I think it is. It is part of my identity,” Unger said. “If you look at our cars, our names are on our license plates. Ed is Rescue Ed and I’m Rescue Don.”

They've been saving lives and serving strangers in need for no pay.

Ed and Don volunteer with Tuckahoe.

"I made absolutely zero dollars doing this,” Farrish said. “If you really love it you do it for the love of it not for the money.”

Don and Ed Tuckahoe Rescue Squad

”I think not getting paid is a more motivating factor for me,” Unger added.

Something simple yet profound keeps the friends coming back shift after shift.

”The wanting to help your fellow man basically,” Ed Farrish said. ”I think Don is the same way if you see someone who needs help you help them.”

The duo remembers the days when the West End was a rural outpost of Richmond.

“We used to be dressed in a white shirt and white pants and white milkman hat,” Farrish said.

With exploding residential and business growth the Rescuer Squad remains busier than ever.

Beginning this month there will be one less familiar face showing up at accident scenes.

After 58 years of volunteering, Ed Farrish is finally handing in his first aid kit.

“It is hard to get off my knees now because I’m 81 years old,” Farrish said. “But I don’t want to overstay my usefulness. I’ll still help people in other ways.”

Don and Ed Tuckahoe Rescue Squad

This was a day Don Unger knew was approaching and dreaded.

“I know he deserves to be able to retire. But it is going to change what I do at the rescue squad too,” Unger said.

Responding to calls won’t be the same without his fellow first responder at his side.

“He didn’t tell you that he also works as an election worker, he works for Henrico County as a motor assistance person. He works for his church,” Unger said. “People in Henrico County have been very lucky to have him.”

It is a partnership forged by more than a century of service to others. Until that last dispatch comes for this very real dynamic duo. These volunteers are savoring each call together.

”I wouldn’t do any other thing,” Unger said. “It has just been fantastic the whole time. All in all it has been a great ride.”

Ed Farrish will retire from responding to emergency calls but he still serves as Tuckahoe Rescue Squad’s Vice President.

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