On July 11, the Patrick County Board of Supervisors has requested a representative from each rescue squad in the county to present their respective ideas and thoughts on what is needed for the county’s EMS system.
Vesta Rescue Squad has consistently endorsed some form of a paid EMS system to back up the volunteers, whether it be a fully staffed EMS unit or a Quick Response Vehicle (QRV) staffed by an advanced life support (ALS) provider to respond with each rescue squad when needed.
Vesta Rescue has never requested a unit to be housed in Vesta, rather a unit stationed central to the county to back up all volunteer rescue squads when volunteers are unavailable. We are not asking to dissolve any of the volunteer squads.
The EMS and fire volunteers in this county are an invaluable resource and I applaud all of them for sacrificing their time to help others in need. These volunteers also have other obligations, such as family and jobs, that reduce the time they have available to cover emergency calls.
The purpose of this letter is to provide to you accurate information concerning the current EMS model in Patrick County. Keep in mind that EMS stands for “emergency medical services.” Although not all calls for EMS are emergent, they have to be treated as such until patient contact is made to determine the extent of injury or illness. The following facts are from the county’s dispatch log from October 1, 2015, through January 15, 2016. This data is compiled from 486 calls for EMS in the county.
Of these 486 calls, 96 had a response time of 30 minutes or greater. The response time is measured from the time the call is dispatched until an EMS unit arrives on scene. Thirty-five of these calls had a response time of 40 minutes or greater and three of these calls had a response time of an hour or longer with the longest recorded time of one hour and 19 minutes.
Conversely, 390 of these calls had a response time of less than 30 minutes. What do these numbers mean? These numbers are an accurate depiction of a volunteer system. The response times are very good when volunteers are available, not so good when they are not.
Do you find these response times to be acceptable? How long would you be willing to wait for an ambulance if needed? How many times should a dispatcher have to set tones for an EMS unit?
In conclusion, our current EMS system needs help. Ideally, each rescue squad would have enough volunteers to cover all calls in a timely fashion. However, as you can see by the sample of response times, we have a volunteer shortage.
Our board of supervisors states that the county cannot afford a paid EMS service but I ask how can we not? Can we afford lengthy response times due to responder unavailability? How long would you want your loved one to wait?
Every county that borders Patrick has a paid EMS system, some of which are staffed of EMTs from Patrick County. These EMTs have to seek employment in their field of study outside of Patrick County. Our board of supervisors claims to strive for more jobs in the county—what better way to create jobs?
On behalf of Vesta Rescue Squad, we ask that each of you consider becoming a volunteer your local EMS or fire department and also to contact your respective supervisor concerning your thoughts and concerns regarding this matter.
Dwayne H. Alderman
Vesta Rescue Squad


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