Rescue squad on verge of closing amid embezzlement investigation

Posted at 8:53 PM, Feb 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-26 20:57:20-05

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office is investigating the administrator of the Brunswick Volunteer Rescue Squad.

"She is suspended without pay pending this investigation," Sheriff Brian Roberts said.

As a result, the rescue squad is doing all it can to cut expenses to try to keep the doors open.

In January, the administrator asked the Board of Supervisors for an advance payment so the rescue squad could make payroll and pay expenses.

The Board of Supervisors declined the request and set up an oversight committee to look at rescue squad's day-to-day operations.

Shortly after, the sheriff's office was called out and an investigation was launched.

Darleen Ferguson, a member of the rescue squad who joined in 1988, called the situation heartbreaking.

"Very disappointed. I've lost sleep and have cried over it," Ferguson said.

The investigation found the department's expenses far exceed the amount of money coming in. However, Brunswick is by far the busiest of the three county rescue squads. In fact, Brunswick Rescue ran 1495 calls, compared to Alberta's 958 and Central's 727 calls for service in 2013.

Ray Thomas, who works and lives in the Brunswick Rescue Squad territory, said he and his neighbors are worried about the possibility the rescue squad could close if the financial situation doesn't change.

Ferguson said some paid staffers have returned on their off days to volunteer to keep ambulances on the roads.