, 2014

Kilmarnock squad leadership
challenges recent news article

by Audrey Thomasson

KILMARNOCK—Kilmarnock Lancaster Volunteer Rescue Squad (KLVRS) leaders on Monday denied they are in a dispute over use of their facility by the county’s paid Advanced Life Support (ALS) responders.

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Their denial came after a Rappahannock Record article last week about a dispute involving the Upper Lancaster Volunteer Rescue Squad over the county staffing their building on weeknights. The ULVRS attempted to have state troopers remove a county emergency service employee.

The incident came after the county agreed to fund additional emergency services for citizens by having ALS providers available 24/7 for rescue calls. Paramedics and Intermediate Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are considered ALS.

KLVRS president Samantha Walton and captain Erik Brown said their organization has a good relationship with paid emergency service members and welcomes them in their facility. However, their membership also voted against allowing ALS to operate from their facility during volunteer shifts, which cover seven nights a week from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Brown explained the Kilmarnock and Upper Lancaster squads are separate organizations, although they operate under the same agreement with the county.

According to figures supplied by Brown, the Kilmarnock squad responded to 381 calls last year. In an effort to improve their response times, Brown said the squad purchased a used vehicle from the sheriff’s department and equipped it with medical equipment.

When a call for emergency service comes in, a volunteer uses the vehicle to respond from his home while a second crew member will pick up the ambulance at the squad and meet up at the scene.

“The response car has cut response time so we don’t have to stay at the squad house,” he said.

The squad has two paramedics, two basic-enhanced providers and 11 basic providers, according to Walton, who is certified as “enhanced.” Walton works in an eye-care center during the day and spends one to three hours a day volunteering or doing administrative duties for the squad.

Brown, who is a corrections officer during the day, also attends Rappahannock Community College for his “enhanced” certification. The course and books cost nearly $2,000, he said.

Both expressed concern over the county’s lack of communication, saying their phone calls and emails are not returned and the county cancels meetings with them.

The county’s chief of emergency services, Christina Hubbard, said she holds local emergency planning meetings quarterly but that neither rescue squad has attended. The last meeting was on July 24.

Despite supervisor Wally Beauchamp’s recent denial the county has any interest in taking over the squads, Brown insisted a letter proves it was not a “rumor” as reported in the newspaper.

ULVRS president Judy Hammell and Walton agreed. They said the September 25 letter addressed to officers of the Upper Lancaster squad from county attorney James Cornwell clearly stated the county would take them over on October 1.

In the letter, Cornwell referred to the squad’s refusal to allow county emergency personnel in their building on weeknights and said the “conduct was in violation of their agreement” with the county.

“Career emergency service personnel employed by the county will return to the squad’s station commencing on the evening of Monday, October 1st,” Cornwell wrote.

However, in a subsequent meeting with the squad, the county backed off and decided to house the advanced provider in the county offices in Lancaster.

Brown and Waldon also objected to a sidebar to last week’s story which counted EMT-enhanced among the basic category rather than in advanced. The sidebar listed the number of personnel, by their training certification levels, serving the volunteer squads and on the county’s paid staff.

The placement was made by the county and approved by the squads’ medical director, Dr. Paul Sutherland.

Brown cited a page from the Virginia Department of Health (VDOH) website that offered a training class for EMT-enhanced under the heading “ALS Programs.”

VDOH’s director of codes and compliance, Michael Berg, said it is up to Dr. Sutherland to make the call.

“Enhanced are closer to an intermediate level and can give more services than basics, but they can’t provide many of the services needed for cardiac patients,” Berg said. Classifying them as advanced “is up to the medical director,” he said.

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