Bedford Life Saving Crew seeks government help to continue operation

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) On the side of ambulances, The Bedford Life Saving Crew notes it has been staffed by volunteers since 1943.

John Messier has donated his time to the organization since he was a teenager.

"The sustainability of the volunteer system just isn't what it used to be," said Messier, who now serves as chairman of the Bedford Life Saving Crew Foundation.

In its early days, the crew had a much larger membership. Today, paramedics have to complete more training to serve and fewer people are able to make the time commitment.

"We have gotten to the point where we have so few volunteers and we need to have those volunteers managed professionally," Messier said.

Members of the life saving crew recently reached out to Bedford County Fire & Rescue and asked for help.

"We're being respectful to both sides," said Bedford County Fire & Rescue Chief, Jack Jones. "To the patients that need us and to the volunteers with very busy lives who still want to be engaged."

The life saving crew has developed a plan to have the county manage its operation. Calls would still be answered by both county staff and volunteers. The crew hall and maintenance of all vehicles and equipment would become a county expense.

"There will probably be a marginal financial impact on the county," Jones said. "What we will have in this opportunity is a more managed system"

"It's basically going to be seamless for the citizen and will probably be enhanced as far as the service," Messier said.

The Bedford County Board of Supervisors will have to approve the change. Members of the life saving crew and Bedford County Fire & Rescue plan to present the idea to supervisors at their meeting Monday night.

If county staff takes over the Bedford Life Saving Crew will continue to exist as a non-profit. Their funds will be held in a trust for training and education.