ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

After nearly five decades of service, Albemarle County has decided to shut the doors of one of its volunteer rescue squads for good.

This decision comes after the Scottsville Volunteer Rescue Squad announced that is had been operating with a shortage of volunteers for months and was in need of assistance.

On Wednesday, April 17, the board of supervisors voted that Albemarle County Fire-Rescue (ACFR) will take over service in southern Albemarle County. However, some county leaders say the decision wasn't an easy one to make.

After 45 years of service, the Scottsville Volunteer Rescue Squad will be closing its doors for good.

“We were left with no recourse under the circumstances,” Rick Randolph, the Scottsville supervisor, said. “They continued to bleed personnel."

On Wednesday night, Albemarle County supervisors announced that ACFR will assume responsibility for emergency medical operations for southern Albemarle.

“It’s been a labored decision, and I think the board has probably met somewhere in the neighborhood of five times in closed session to discuss how best to accommodate the needs of the residents of southern Albemarle,” Randolph said.

“Our main priority is to provide uninterrupted service 24 hours a day while we work with the squad during this transition,” ACFR Chief Dan Eggleston said.

Back in December 2018, Eggleston received a letter from the Scottsville Volunteer Rescue Squad asking for support from the county for day-to-day operations.

As of January, the squad was operating with less than 50% of necessary volunteers.

“It just reaches a point where we can't run the risk any further to assume that they're going to be able to sustain even the absolutely de minimis presence of volunteers,” Randolph said.

Chief Eggleston says he will work with any volunteers with the squad if they are still interested in volunteering with the county, but the lack of volunteers has become a nationwide problem.

“We see across the country challenges, and it’s our hope that we can provide initiatives to turn the tide and make it much easier for people to step up and volunteer for their community," Eggleston said.

Randolph says the board made the decision with safety being its top priority.

“We're forced by circumstances,” Randolph said. “It’s not something we wanted to do, but it’s something we have to do for the residents of southern Albemarle."

Albemarle County Fire-Rescue says it will continue to work with the Scottsville Volunteer Rescue Squad to assure the transition will be an easy one, and it expects to fully take over operations sometime this fall.


Press Release from Albemarle County:
 
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA - The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors announced this evening that Albemarle County Fire Rescue (ACFR) will assume responsibility for emergency medical service delivery for Southern Albemarle, effective immediately. This announcement follows a vote for the dissolution of the Scottsville Volunteer Rescue Squad (SVRS), which has increasingly relied on supplemental staffing from ACFR to meet minimum staffing over the past several months. This decision was reached through deliberations by the Board of Supervisors over the past several months and in recognition that consistent, reliable, and qualified EMS coverage for the Scottsville area and Southern Albemarle is paramount for such a critical public safety service.
 
In December 2018, Albemarle County Fire Rescue Chief Dan Eggleston received a letter from the Scottsville Volunteer Rescue Squad Board Chair S. John Waits to request support from the County for day-to-day operations and to supplement the current volunteers with ACFR staff to provide EMS coverage. Since that time, ACFR has fulfilled SVRS’ requests - initially, for coverage for overnight shifts on Wednesdays and Fridays, and full 24-hour coverage on Saturdays and Sundays. However, SVRS has continued to struggle with volunteer retention and at present, ACFR is providing EMS staff coverage for nearly all shifts through voluntary overtime opportunities for staff throughout the ACFR system. Such reliance on overtime is not a sustainable long-term strategy for service from Scottsville and moving forward, ACFR will be better able to appropriately resource the station.
 
The Board of Supervisors sincerely thanked the members of SVRS for their dedication in providing emergency medical service for their community since 1974. ACFR remains committed to working with the members of SVRS and its Board during this transition to continue to meet the EMS needs of the community and welcomes the opportunity to work together for Southern Albemarle.