BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) With a growing population at Virginia Tech coming, emergency crews on campus were in need of better equipment.
Wednesday they were showing off one of their biggest new additions, a new ambulance.
What makes it so much different than what they already had is it can do more than the old trucks, and it's $120,000 cheaper according to leadership, at just $160,000 for the vehicle.
But not being able to afford a new ambulance for seven years shows how much work it's taken.
Virginia Tech Rescue Squad Michael Geary explained, "Over the last eight years or so, we've been saving about 35% of our operating budget. The operating budget comes to us from the university out of some student fees. So we've been saving diligently that money to be able to afford this ambulance here."
What's so much different about the ambulance is it's much smaller than the other three the squad has, including the nine-year old truck it's replacing.
Sarah Lowen is a driver for the Rescue Squad and was training on the new ambulance Wednesday.
She said, "Driving around campus with the buildings being so close together and having more of a compact place to drive it, it's nice to have something that can maneuver a little bit more efficiently for us."
But the EMTs treating patients in the back of the truck assure the public a smaller truck doesn't mean less care.
Rescue Squad Team Leader Aram Hudson explained, "It carries everything that we need it to carry, it's nice that we can maneuver it around campus a little better since it's a lot smaller, but it's definitely not lacking in any other aspects. It's definitely more than adequate and I like a little bit of a smaller truck anyway."
In fact, it comes with a new stretcher loading system that's now required by law. A $15,000 part, included in the price of the truck.
And Chief Geary said with that and the $15,000 - $18,000 of other equipment it has, his squad will be better able to serve the campus than when they used the old truck.
"It will be in service much more than the other truck is, just because the maintenance won't be as much," he said. "Having this truck will decrease the time that it will need to go into the shop."
The squad saw 50 more calls this year, with just 700 more students on campus.
Chief Geary said the 35% of the budget will continue to be set aside now that the ambulance was purchased. He said down the road the squad will need to replace the other two ambulances, which have a 10-year life span.
But more importantly that money goes toward the other most expensive tool, the cardiac monitors. He said those need to be replaced on time because it can be dangerous if they're out of date.
The Virginia Tech Rescue Squad is a completely student-run, volunteer emergency management agency that serves the Virginia Tech community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The squad has more than 40 student members who perform the same functions as a municipal rescue squad and handle about 1,200 calls per year. The students are dispatched from their station on Barger Street and rely heavily on their fleet of three ambulances to get them to the scene.
Students who serve on the rescue squad provide emergency care and rescue to individuals having medical emergencies, including motor vehicle and construction accidents, natural disasters, and more. The rescue squad has served the university community since 1969 and is the oldest collegiate rescue squad in Virginia and the second oldest in the nation.
In addition to emergency calls, the squad serves behind the scenes at every Virginia Tech home football game, providing emergency medical services to a crowd of up to 66,000 fans. Before, during, and after each game, the student volunteers staff four first-aid stations with up to eight beds in each. They provide treatment to people with a multitude of injuries, illnesses, and other issues, and they transport patients in need of more advanced medical care to local hospitals. They operate three ambulances and help with other logistical and support roles inside and out of the stadium.
Through specialized equipment and extensive training, members of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad are prepared to provide the best care to the Virginia Tech community.