Comprehensive Study of Orange County Fire, EMS Underway

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A team from Richmond is on its way to Orange County Tuesday night to check out the fire and emergency medical services system. Volunteer and career squads are hoping a study will give them a better idea of how best to serve the community.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors called on the Virginia Fire Services Board to start a comprehensive study last month. The study team will be in town for the next three days, and hope to get community input to help improve the county's fire and emergency crews.

“These studies look at across the board how you're doing with your service providing and to the people of the county,” said Bert Roby, Orange volunteer fire chief.

The county's Board of Supervisors requested a statewide study team to perform a thorough review on the lifesaving squads.

“In order to provide that high level of service, every once in a while you need to take a look and what this study is going to do,” said John Harkness, Orange County EMS chief.

The team will be looking at different factors including apparatus, dispatch procedures, training, and volunteer recruitment.

“We realize that we value our volunteers, we need to retain them and we also need new volunteers in order to sustain the level of service that we're providing here in county,” Harkness said.

Orange County will be holding a town hall meeting Wednesday night in hopes of getting feedback from the people it serves.

“They're the ones we're actually providing that service to and it's very important that they come out if they have any questions or concerns because ultimately we're here to serve them,” Harkness said.

“If we're doing a good job, that's what we're supposed to do,” Roby said. “If we're failing in some area or we're not up to people's expectations, that's what we need to know because that's what makes us better.”

The public hearing is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. in the board meeting room at the Gordon building. Orange County is expecting to get a final report from the study team months from now.

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