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Volunteer rescue squad suspends service after squabble

Posted at 6:04 PM, Oct 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-12 23:42:56-04

NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - For 50 years the Providence Forge Volunteer Rescue Squad has been a staple of the New Kent community.

But now the department doesn't even have a permit to operate in the county.

Members who run those emergency calls say certain issues they have had with county leaders turned into a battle. It‘s a battle they say seemed impossible to win.

As much as it pained her to do it, Annette Roberts, a volunteer paramedic with Providence Forge’s volunteer squad, sent out a letter in a community paper alerting New Kent neighbors that their squad would no longer take emergency calls in the county.

Roberts, who also serves as the squad’s public relations spokesperson, say it started a few years ago with a New Kent county ordinance that would have forced their independent EMT organization to operate under guidelines set forth by New Kent Fire and EMS.

Roberts also says they wouldn't accept having the county’s medical director overseeing them when the EMT squad had it’s own. The third sticking point she says they couldn't get past, revolves around funding.

Roberts tells CBS 6 funding that came to them from the county used to be around seventy-eight thousand dollars a year has dwindled down to nothing. “It costs a lot. We have to pay for fuel, insurance, uniforms, and training. Private donations just don’t cover that.”

Some folks like Carol and Fred Lauber said they were surprised to learn that the Providence Forge Volunteer Rescue squad was suspending it’s service effective immediately. They wonder who will take care of citizens in need when they dial 911.

“It’ sounds like it is going to be a big problem because it's going to take even longer for an ambulance to come to an emergency," Lauber said.

Roberts says to her knowledge paid county firefighters and E-M-Ts will just have to pick up the slack that the volunteer squad was taking up for New Kent County

In the meantime, Roberts says they will keep their Providence Forge Volunteer Rescue Squad up and running. She says they will now just focus their efforts on

Handling emergency calls in Charles City County.

As for operating again in New Kent, Roberts says they'll keep the door open. If the county is willing to negotiate, they’re willing to come back to the table.

CBS 6 reached out to New Kent officials for a comment. We were told no one was available to do an interview about the concerns raised by the volunteer rescue squad.