Spirited exchange during budget talks

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    A proposed $12,000 expense to stock a Quick Response Vehicle (QRV) prompted a spirited exchange during Monday’s meeting of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.

    Blue Ridge District Supervisor Karl Weiss said the funds are needed to stock the QRV, partly because some ambulances “are not being kept up.”

    Responding to questions from officials, meeting attendee Joanne Spangler said the stocking issue is going to arise because “you have people that come and get on one ambulance” to run a call, but the squad is not restocked “when they get off.”

    County officials have grappled with issues in the current volunteer squad system, which is often understaffed during certain hours because volunteers must juggle their volunteer activities with work, personal and family commitments.

    The county has looked at a number of options to shore up the local volunteer squads, according to previous reports. Primarily two options (or some combination thereof) are under consideration: Implement a career system or offer stipends to volunteers while adding another shift to LifeCare, a paid provider operating at the Pioneer Community Hospital of Stuart.

    Weiss said Monday the situation has not improved, and noted that someone who experienced a medical emergency at Aerial recently had to wait 45 minutes for rescue. (See related story.)

    “Yeah, it’s Patrick County …. You’re not going to fix it,” Lock Boyce, supervisor of the Mayo River District, said.

    “Three on this board are going to fix it,” Weiss said, alluding to the majority vote needed to address the rescue situation.

    “What’s the point of having a paid ambulance (QRV)” if there is no one to staff it, Boyce asked.

    The vehicle would be staffed by Patrick County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Allen and his part-time assistant, Lamont Bryant, according to discussion during the meeting.

    Boyce said the QRV is a back-door to having a paid service.

    Both Allen and Bryant currently respond to emergency calls, Weiss said Thursday.

    Dan River District Supervisor Roger Hayden asked about the stipend.

    “I won’t vote for it,” Weiss said.

    Boyce told Weiss he should vote support the stipend option. He also said a stipend was the fix to a problem in the Blue Ridge District.

    Now “they don’t miss a call,” Boyce said.

    Supervisors agreed to table further discussion of the issue until the May 8 meeting. They also directed County Administrator Tom Rose to ask Allen to attend the meeting to answer questions and provide clarification.