The JEB Stuart Rescue Squad will add a paid crew to both help the community and back up volunteers, according to Derek Wagner, captain of the squad.
Wagner said the decision was in response to the low number of volunteers, about 15 active, and the call volume of more than 1,100 calls per year.
“The problem was the call coverage didn’t increase but 1.5 percent. That’s not much, but involvement did pick up. That told us it wasn’t the stipend, it was a lack of time” for volunteers, Wagner said, and added volunteers have other priorities, including paid jobs, family, college and the like.
In September, squad members voted on creating paid crews, as a way to “help take the burden off our volunteers” and increase call coverage, he said.
The squad plans to hire eight to 10 people, or four to five per shift, to work part-time, Wagner said.
Schedules will be Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wagner said, and added volunteers are generally available to run calls after 6 p.m. Those hired will stay at the squad during their shift unless they are responding to a call, he added.
EMT Basic Life Support (BLS) employees will be paid $10 per hour; Advanced Life Support (ALS) will earn $15 per hour. Those hired cannot exceed 25 hours per week, and most will work around 22 hours, Wagner said. One ALS and BLS provider will be needed on each squad.
He added the squad also hopes to add one or two people to work as needed, filling in when a part-time employee is unable to work.
“JEB Stuart’s highest priority is patient care and making sure” residents “have peace of mind knowing if they have a medical emergency, that a medical professional will be there,” he said.
All employees must undergo background checks, according to Wagner, who said funds from soft-billing will be used to pay for the part-time crews. The squad currently soft-bills users, in which bills are sent, but there is no legal action taken if the bill is not paid.
The squad also is considering another revenue stream — hard-billing users from outside the county – to help pay for career crews, he said.
The squad also implemented a youth program for teens aged 13 to 18, and will consider creating a Junior Squad if there is enough interest, Wagner said. Those aged 16 to 18 can ride with squad members responding to calls up to 9 p.m., he said of the squad that has been serving Patrick County for more than 37 years, and responds to more than half the calls in the county, according to Wagner.
Applications are being accepted through Oct. 11 for paid slots, and the squad is always accepting volunteer applications, Wagner said.
To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Wagner at (276) 692-6640 for more information.