A new ambulance service in northern Augusta County means quicker response times for thousands of people. It's part of the county's $2 million improvement to fire and rescue response.
A two-year federal grant has been helping Augusta County beef up its fire and rescue personnel, from 59 paid staffers to 80.
The latest piece of the puzzle is Weyers Cave, which has a volunteer fire company with decades of history - but until this week, no ambulance service of its own.
The full-time, paid responders run rescue calls out of the Weyers Cave Fire Department, an all-volunteer agency that ran 700 calls last year.
"You know, you're curious how it was going to be, how it was going to work. Was there going to be conflict or anything like that? Thus far, there really hasn't at all. It's worked very well," said Ian Heatwole, Weyers Cave Fire Department president.
Heatwole says the community has been well-served by three different rescue squads: Staunton-Augusta to the south, Grottoes to the east, and Bridgewater to the north. But this week, they began rolling out the door from the center of town, and that will make a big difference for neighbors.
"Anytime you can respond a mile away as opposed to six to eight miles away, obviously your response time is going to be affected dramatically," said Matt Ruff, assistant chief at the Weyers Cave Fire Department.
"Shaving off 10 minutes on your time to get to the hospital and to get to diagnostic equipment and professional medical care is huge," Heatwole said.
Heatwole says the new rescue squad was roughly five years in the planning. It now handles not only calls in Weyers Cave and nearby Mount Sidney but across the county line into Rockingham as well.