Paid Medics to Assist Nelson Volunteers

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

February 14, 2006

For the first time, Nelson County is ready to pay their emergency rescue workers. For years, Wintergreen Fire and Rescue answered Nelson County emergency calls. But that may soon change. The Nelson County Board of Supervisors met today to decide if they are going to hire 6 paid medics. Officials say that would help residents get emergency care more quickly.

"There are occasions when there is actually nobody to answer a call," said Connie Brennan, Nelson County's Central District Supervisor.

That's because the Nelson County rescue squad is all volunteer and during the week it's hard to find a medic that doesn't have a day job.

Wintergreen Rescue Squad answers 50 percent of Nelson County's emergency calls. Even they realize it's time to make a change.

"One out of 2 calls that we answer is to help another agency so this will improve the availability of our crews for our calls," said Chief Curtis Sheets, of the Wintergreen Rescue Squad.

Under the contract, 6 paid medics would be on duty from 5 in the morning until 6 at night during the week. To make up for each of their $30,000 dollars salaries the county plans to bill residents for transporting them by ambulance.

"Most folks have a provision in their insurance that allows for a charge for an ambulance ride," said Sheets.

The Board of Supervisors held a meeting to vote on the contract. But one board member said she will make sure it gets passed. Connie Brennan was on the rescue squad when she first moved to Nelson County and she knows how important timing really is.

"Our residents expect 24/7 to have somebody there to help them when they need help and that's what we're hoping to provide," said Brennan.

The board is expected to accept that contract, and if that happens it will then be sent to the Wintergreen Property Owner's Association who operates the rescue squad to approve that. The Board of Supervisors also raised money for this by increasing the utility and cellphone taxes to pay for the additional medics.

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