PRESS RELEASE: SURRY COUNTY SEEKS LICENSURE TO BECOME A DESIGNATED EMERGENCY RESPONSE AGENCY – Helping to Ease the Burden on EMS Volunteers
The Surry County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution presented at their regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, July 7, 2022, that will allow the County to seek licensure to provide citizens Advanced Life Support/Basic Life Support (ALS/BLS) Transport Service and to become the Designated Emergency Response Agency (DERA).
Surry County, like many other rural counties across Virginia and the Nation, is facing unique challenges that have brought on the decline in available volunteer Rescue Squad members to immediately respond to and handle a crisis for citizens and visitors of Surry County. Rural citizens represent some of the most vulnerable populations of the Commonwealth and are more likely to fall into the “high risk” population: low or fixed income, elderly, etc. The availability of emergency services has a direct impact on the quality of life in a rural community.
The decline in available volunteerism can be attributed to many factors including COVID-19 constraints and restrictions, higher call volumes, employment outside the County, family demands, career demands, financial obligations requiring two jobs to provide for themselves and their families, time constraints involved in maintaining required training and certifications and more.
“The Surry Volunteer Rescue Squad has served the citizens of Surry County well for many years. We appreciate their service and realize that times have changed, and the needs of the county have changed,” stated Surry County Board of Supervisors Madam Chairman, Mrs. Judy Lyttle during a discussion regarding the proposed resolution. Surry County residents have relied on the Surry Volunteer Rescue Squad to provide emergency medical care and transport for nearly 70 years; during this time many volunteer members have come and gone, but their dedicated services have been greatly valued and appreciated by all.
Despite the history and many years of volunteer dedication, volunteer EMS agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to find and keep staff. These challenges along with the decline in available volunteers to answer calls for service have prompted the Surry County Board of Supervisors to take action to mitigate risks of future responses and services to the citizens and visitors of Surry. Mr. Robert Elliott, Surry County Board of Supervisors member advised, “We are working towards ensuring that we have the best emergency services care for Surry County citizens, and it is going to take a collective effort of us all joining forces together to accomplish this.” Licensure will allow the county to explore options in providing quality, professional and timely service mandated for emergency response calls.