I was standing at the check-in window of the Heathsville Animal Hospital one day in 1997 talking with Laurie Basye, a veterinary assistant, bright-eyed and always-smiling. The two-way radio I carried for my volunteer service with a rescue squad was on my hip. A voice behind me asked, "Are you with the rescue squad?"
I turned to see 10-year-old Devin Basye, Laurie's son and my questioner. Even then, Devin was built like a fireman, compact and square, with muscular potential that in a few years would replace his pre-teen chubbiness.
Devin was eager to join a squad and the chronically-strapped-for-manpower squad was eager to have him, but his physical age got in the way and physical age was the operative criterion. At the time, rescue squad membership opportunities didn't exist for those younger than 14 years. The Mid-County Volunteer Rescue Squad, of which I was a member, had a "junior" squad, but you had to be 14 to join. The theory was that kids younger than 14 might be permanently scarred by the sights and sounds of injury and illness.
So Devin bided his time and joined the junior squad as soon as he could. I was the squad's 1st lieutenant at the time. One of my duties was to keep an eye on thejunior squad and to make sure they had meaningful things to do and that the kids got them done. The year Devin took over as president of the junior squad, I was relegated to an irrelevant corner because he organized the kids, their activities, and their paperwork so well.He took to squad work and held on like a terrier:
- He organized the medical supply closet and made sure it stayed that way.
- He cleaned, restocked, and inspected the ambulances.
- He made sure the junior squad members kept their CPR certifications up to date, kept their paperwork in order, and ensured that they attended meetings and events.
- He stayed on top of supply inventories.
- He put equipment where it belonged.
- He did what he said he would do.
Devin even did a few things he said he wouldn't do. One of the junior squad's duties was to police the trash up and down the highway from the station. After one clean-up detail, bags of trash needed to be hauled away. I asked Devin to see to it, but he told me he wouldn't be able to. I was on my way out of town and couldn't do it myself. When I returned the next day, Devin had taken care of it after all. I was so pleased!