Chief Greg Cook agrees that a recent gift to the Hampton County Fire- Rescue is potentially “the gift of life” for residents facing emergencies.

The department received not blood but something almost as vital when time is tight and lives are on the line—11 iPads for use in department vehicles responding to emergency calls. The gift is possible thanks in part to co-op members who participate in Palmetto Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round Up program. More specifically, the gift is courtesy of the volunteer Trust Board that administers the program, known as the Palmetto Electric Trust (PET). The Trust Board donated the iPads to Hampton County Fire-Rescue this summer.

Chief Cook says the gift is right on time. The department’s dispatch center has been implementing a new CAD (computer-aided dispatch) system, which is now tied into the iPads, he notes.

“It has incident reporting software,” Cook says. “With our old system, we’d have to call in (on the radio) to get any information on the report. With the new system, we’ll actually be able to get the information to the iPads on the trucks as the dispatcher puts it in.”

The chief says, “This is a huge help to Hampton County. Our department’s total budget is $591,000 to cover all the fire truck repairs, everything. Eighty-nine percent of our budget is from taxes. Six percent is from fines and fees. Thirty four percent is for salaries and benefits for our eight paid employees.” The department, which still has volunteers, he notes, covers 560 square miles.

Operation Round Up at Palmetto Electric Cooperative is administered by the Palmetto Electric Trust (PET), a volunteer board of community servants, including Cook, who has served for more than three years.

Operation Round Up gives Palmetto members an easy way to make a big difference with little more than spare change. The co-op rounds up the bills of participating members to the next-highest dollar each month. The average consumer will contribute only about six dollars a year. Operation Round Up funds stay right here in Hampton, Jasper and southern Beaufort counties. Last year more than $513,000 was granted to individuals in need, as well as community service organizations, scholarships and local teachers with inspiring Bright Ideas projects.

Why do we do this? Because Palmetto Electric, as a cooperative business, operates by the Cooperative Principles, which include Concern for Community. We celebrate National Co-op Month each October.

Displaying their iPads are Hampton County Fire-Rescue personnel (from left) C.J. Sauls,
Michael Grovenstein, Dakota Smith, Brenna Hancock, Chief Greg Cook, Kevin Long,
Wayne Nissley and Jesse Gifford.

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