PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY (WSLS 10) – As of January 1, Climax volunteer firefighters no longer provide emergency management services (EMS) to residents in the Climax area.
Instead, firefighters will now only respond to fire calls.
“We only had a few EMTs that were carrying the load and it just seemed like it wasn’t fair,” said Climax VFD Chief Tim Smith. “Our youngest EMT is, like, 65 years old.”
Prior to stopping service at the end of the year, firefighters would respond to medical calls and provide treatment until the nearest volunteer rescue squad members could get to the scene.
Now, residents like 92-year-old Walter Crider will have to wait for the rescue squad members to arrive.
For Crider, that’s concerning.
“If you’re not there very rapidly and get some kind of temporary service off the vehicle and then get to the hospital then they may as well not come,” Crider pointed out.
James Davis, the county’s EMS coordinator, emphasizes that, like always, rescue squads will still be alerted as soon as a medical emergency call comes in and will be dispatched to the scene.
“If no one is available for EMS at all, then after six minutes we notify Regional One with the contract that we have, where they, then, respond,’ Davis explained.
But, because the closest rescue squads are located outside of Climax it could potentially now take longer for Climax residents to receive EMS service.
According to Smith, how much longer depends on the situation, as there’s no telling how long it would have taken the fire department to respond.
“We’ve had calls that take us 18 minutes to respond to and there’s also calls that take three minutes,” Smith said.
He said if and when new volunteers become available, it will likely take about a year to get them prepared to start responding to calls.