CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A pandemic doesn’t mean any less work for first responders. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad, or CARS, is busier than ever.
“I think the work that we do is priceless,” CARS Chief Virginia Leavell said. “If I had to put a price tag on it, the hours that our volunteers donate is over $2 million in value to the taxpayers.”
Chief Leavell has been on the front lines with CARS for almost 20 years, but her first real experience with the rescue squad came at a much younger age.
“My first call with CARS was in 1994 when my grandmother suffered a cardiac arrest here in the city of Charlottesville and, as a 10 year old, that was my first experience working with volunteers of CARS,” Leavell said. “They were incredible with our family and I knew that that was something that I wanted to be a part of.”
Now, decades later, she leads a team of about 100 volunteers who put it all on the line to keep city and county folks safe.
“We responded to over 6,000 calls for service last year and transported over 4,400 patients to local hospitals, all with volunteer efforts and hours,” Leavell said. “They put in a tremendous amount of time training beyond their shift time.”
Sherri Frantz is the executive director of CARS. “Some days it’s really busy you barely catch your breath,” she said.
Frantz says CARS is an invaluable resource to the community in central Virginia.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, I’m from Ohio and this does not exist there,” Frantz said. “We have this rich community of volunteers that want to serve, that are experts, that are highly trained, and really devoted to the work and to the community and it’s super inspiring.”
While CARS does receive some funding from the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, it relies heavily on donations in order to serve everyone across the board.
“We’re all volunteer, all of our providers are volunteers, so when people donate it really makes a huge impact to 1,000s of people in our community,” Frantz said.