WYTHE CO., Va. -

Here is the news release that the Wythe County Rescue Squad sent out Saturday:

After more than six decades of service to the community and saving countless lives, the Wythe County Rescue Squad will cease operations effective Monday, March 17, 2014 at 7:00 a.m.  The decision, while necessary, was made only after long consideration by the agency's Board of Directors.

For years the non-profit agency has struggled to balance an exceedingly tight budget while still providing adequate services to the community.  As expenses have increased and sources of revenue have decreased, the squad has made numerous cuts to its budget to sustain emergency services in the community as best it could for as long as possible. Wythe County Rescue Squad responds, on average, to more than 2,500 emergency calls per year. The agency also provided emergency medical services to the citizens of Eastern Wythe County from August to December of 2013 when county officials shut down the Lead Mines Rescue Squad.

 In 2005, the agency began billing for services to help the agency keep up with the growing demand for emergency medical services in the community. While billing has provided the majority of the agency's budget since then, typically insurance companies only pay a small portion of the costs associated with providing services and often patients cannot afford to pay for services in an already tight economy.

It is a common misconception that emergency medical services in the community are provided by the government through tax dollars when, in reality, only a small portion of local rescue squad budgets are provided through government support. Over the last four years, on average, just 8% of Wythe County Rescue Squad's annual budget has been provided through direct government contributions from the Town of Wytheville, County of Wythe, and Commonwealth of Virginia. Though increased government support for these vital services has been a common topic between agencies and the local government for years, an adequate solution has never been obtained.

We would like to thank our personnel, volunteer and career, for their dedicated service over the past 65 years, as well as the citizens of our community for their support. Citizens with questions or concerns can contact the agency at 276.228.2671 for more information.