With your busy schedules, it's hard for you to find time to volunteer for anything, much less life-threatening rescue work. It's particularly a concern in Shenandoah County, where volunteer departments are extremely shorthanded. And as WHSV found out, it's making for some very slow response times.
The Shenandoah County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squads have looked at many ways to solve their problems. And they think they've found the answer.
It's an average Friday afternoon at the Woodstock Volunteer Rescue Squad, and no one's home. Scenes like this one led Fire and Rescue Coordinator Gary Yew to form a work group to study problems with area volunteer squads.
“We saw a steady decline in the amount of volunteer participation, volunteers that wanted to be members of the fire and rescue departments and existing volunteer membership that were perhaps losing interest,” says Yew.
Yew says the optimal time to respond to an emergency call is five minutes or less. But his group found many of the calls took between eight and eleven minutes. And sometimes, they didn't respond at all.
“In some cases the first due to accompany, whether it be the fire department or rescue squad, would scratch the call and depend on a neighboring department to answer that call,” explains Yew.
Yew would like to add paid staff to the squads, which would take some of the burden off volunteers. He says everyone in the county admits there are problems with the system. What they need to do now is decide how they can work together to solve them. Yew hopes to present a new plan to the supervisors on the first of the year.