Louisa and Albemarle counties receive grant to help hire more staff
LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Fire and emergency medical services across central Virginia are receiving millions of dollars to help with staffing. This includes both Louisa County and Albemarle County.
The money is part of the Staff for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant issued by FEMA. The money will hire 10 new fire fighters and emergency medical staff in each county.
This comes after emergency service workers have spent the last year-and-a-half fighting on the front lines, with the added risk of COVID-19.
“The real challenge is keeping our people healthy and safe and making sure they don’t take something home with them that they don’t need to be,” Louisa County Fire Chief Robert Dubé said.
Dubé says doing that is extremely hard, but not only because of COVID-19. Call volume has increased and shows no sign of letting up, in addition to the need for more staff members.
“We still have to be out there every day on the front lines, and we can only do so much,” Dubé said.
Louisa County relies on mixed services from fire and EMS, as well as volunteers, to meet its needs. So does Albemarle County, which has also seen staffing shortages over the past year.
“What we’ve had to do because of staffing shortages sometimes is reduce services in those stations,” Albemarle County Fire Rescue Chief Dan Eggleston said.
Now, a total of more than $3 million from FEMA is going to both counties to hire more staff: $1.9 million to Louisa Co. and $1.88 million to Albemarle Co.
“The additional staffing is certainly a welcome add to our department and will help relieve a lot of those folks who have been working so hard to provide consistent and reliable service,” Eggleston said.
Additionally, in Louisa County, $357,000 will go toward improved health and wellness programs.
“It’s really a cumulative effect of all the calls that we see over our career. It’s not just a pandemic issue or a fire issue or a vehicle crash, all of those things add up. It’s okay to say you’re not okay, those kinds of things, and I think it’s going to make for a better workforce,” Dubé said.
Both fire chiefs say they were happy to receive the money, because it allows tax payer money to be used for other things.
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