Ambulance Service Being Added to Fire and Rescue Stations in Augusta

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Augusta County is adding 24/7 ambulance service, station by station, all over the county. It's part of a major upgrade in fire and rescue coverage, largely thanks to state and federal grant money.

People who live in communities like Greenville, Middlebrook and Mint Spring can now expect a quicker response to emergency medical calls. 

This week the Riverheads Fire and Rescue station launched around-the-clock ambulance service. A completely refurbished and outfitted ambulance has Riverheads Fire and Rescue ready to respond to medical calls.

But the vehicle, and the men and women who use it, are equipped for just about anything. "The trucks are set up to run both medical calls and fire calls. So the guys can do either thing - either type of skill when they get to the scene," said Deputy Chief of Augusta Fire and Rescue Mike Armstrong.

"It's a good marriage between the two, that we get to do both of what we love and what we signed up to do to begin with," said Chris Moyer of Augusta Fire and Rescue.

Medics from the Augusta County Fire Department rotate shifts at the Riverheads station to offer 24/7 rescue service to the south-central part of the county. They'll work side by side with volunteer firefighters who opened "Company 25" just two years ago.

"They needed some additional response up here, and every time we go on a call that's one of the first things we hear, is 'we're really happy you're here... can't believe you got here this fast,'" said Jeremy McNeal of Riverheads Fire and Rescue.

While the full-time, paid rescue responders aim to take some of the burden off volunteers, they can also help train them.

"Some have expressed interest in possibly wanting to ride on the ambulance. They can ride with us, they can get their EMS skills if they want to," said Moyer.

The Riverheads squad follows the December launch of ambulance service in Fishersville. Next up is Weyers Cave, which will handle rescue calls in Augusta and Rockingham.

"We're kind of re-drawing those lines, if you want to call it that, to make sure we're making the most of each other's resources," said Armstrong.

That service is in its final planning stages, and should launch in the next few months. The added staffing for Augusta County's Fire and Rescue upgrades comes from a $2 million federal grant. State grant money is helping the county buy and equip the ambulances.