Va. volunteer squad to disband after over 50 years
Surry County supervisors said the service answered less than 2% of total calls in the past year because of its staff shortage
By Eliza Noe
SURRY COUNTY, Va. — The Surry County Volunteer Rescue Squad is relinquishing its agency license after more than 50 years as a unit, citing “changing times” and an extreme shortage of emergency service volunteers.
According to a statement from county supervisors, the volunteer service has answered less than 2% of total calls in the past year because of the dire shortage. The required commitment to training and the availability needed to answer increased calls for service have become too difficult for people wishing to volunteer, the board said.
“Due to the increased reduction in qualified volunteers over time, Surry County has heavily relied on mutual aid from surrounding localities. Isle of Wight and Sussex County answer nearly all of Surry’s second calls for service or approximately 20% of the total call volume,” the statement reads.
At its July 7 meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution that designated Surry County Emergency Medical Services as the designated emergency response agency in Surry County upon receiving licensure. In October, the agency finished its requirement from the Virginia Department of Health to provide ground ambulance services, and by December, it received its license.
The last day for the Surry County Volunteer Rescue Squad is April 9. According to county leadership, Surry County Emergency Medical Services will continue to expand to further help citizens in need. This will include certifications, providing more defibrillators in public settings, developing volunteer opportunities and creating a a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
“The Board of Supervisors has not neglected residents but has been proactive and responsive so that citizens can continue to receive emergency medical response services,” said Robert Elliott, chair of the Surry County Board of Supervisors. “Although the volunteer system has not been operational.”