Families turn tragedy into hope through gift to rescue squad

VERGENNES/BRISTOL — A tragic accident this past summer has inspired a fundraising effort on behalf of the Vergennes Area Rescue Squad.
On Friday, Oct. 30, community members presented VARS with a new LUCAS 3 CPR apparatus, funds for which were raised in memory of Tracy Bedell and Bobby Lowell, who died from injuries sustained in a July ATV crash.
Bedell’s grandmother Elizabeth Armstrong, who helped raise the funds, said she and other fundraisers felt they needed to give back to the rescue squad. 
“We don’t do enough for our rescue squad people,” she said at the presentation ceremony. “I felt like they all really needed a big thank you for all the effort they put in that night to try to save these two boys.” 
Fundraising efforts began when Armstrong and Jenna Lindemann, training officer and rescue coordinator at VARS, wrote letters to community members and local businesses.
The group is still raising funds for a LUCAS 3 CPR apparatus for the Bristol Area Rescue Squad.
It has proven difficult to raise funds amid the ongoing pandemic, said Bedell’s mother, Mary Hutchins-Berry. 
“We can’t put on a dinner or dance or any of that stuff,” she said. “We’re just trying to reach out to the community and say ‘This is what we’ve done with the funds that we’ve received, we thank you, and help us get the other ten thousand dollars so that we can make sure Bristol gets their machine also.’” 
VARS volunteers went live with the LUCAS 3 on Monday. The mechanical CPR device can maintain chest compressions while rescue squad volunteers perform other lifesaving tasks.
The device will be especially useful to VARS volunteers due to the length of transport times, Lindemann said.
“Our transport times are anywhere from 20 minutes to 30 minutes to an hour. So, working in cardiac arrest, that can be really tiring,” she said. “It’ll do the compressions for us, so that we can focus on doing other lifesaving interventions.”
Armstrong hopes the device can save people in need.
“I know how critical one piece of equipment can be to save a life, and there’s nothing more important than your own health and your own life. Nothing is more important than that,” she said. “We lost two lives. We can’t ever get back these young boys, but we can try to save lives in the community, and that’s our goal.” 
Donations can be made online at or sent by mail to the local rescue squads at P.O. Box 227 Bristol, VT 05443 ATTN: Tracy Memorial Fund or P.O. Box 11 Vergennes, VT 05491 ATTN: Tracy Memorial Fund.

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