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Botetourt County Fire & EMS to hire career staff for Blue Ridge Rescue

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 5:23 PM EDT
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BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - For the first time in its nearly 40-year history, the Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue Station will have career staff members running calls.

Recently the station has been seeing more calls and fewer volunteers for the rescue side of the station, Botetourt County Fire and EMS Chief Jason Ferguson said.

“Activity of this station is being dispatched to a little over 400 calls for service related to EMS just in the Blue Ridge district,” Ferguson said.

Those 400-plus calls came just within the first nine months of 2020.

In the last 20 years, the call volume has tripled for the Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue Station, and volunteers are harder to come by, Ferguson said.

“We have to make sure we are poised to identify the gaps in coverage and find ways to address those,” Ferguson said.

That is why this week the county’s Board of Supervisors voted for the Fire and EMS Department to hire seven career staff members to work as paramedics and EMTs for the rescue squad.

“Well, you know, that’s in our charter in Botetourt County, safety is one of the big issues,” Board Chairman Billy Martin said.

The new jobs are worth the investment, Martin said.

“We have to provide those services to keep those in the county safe,” he said.

Recently the Blue Ridge Rescue Squad was getting help from other stations in the county to fill in the gaps.

Ferguson said that can put a strain on resources.

“It’s a cascade effect because if this station isn’t available and it has to come from Reed Mountain, then Reed Mountain is not available, and it will have to come from Troutville and so on and so forth,” Ferguson said.

He said this community deserves to have its own team ready to respond when an emergency happens.

“It’s still vital to the future of the county, so we need to make sure there are still services coming out of this building,” Ferguson said.

Moving forward, the fire side of this station will stay volunteer.

There were five EMT volunteers working out of Blue Ridge before October. Those volunteers still have an opportunity to serve their community.

Chief Ferguson said they can always use the extra support with back-staffing their career staff and help on overnights and weekends.

Botetourt County Fire and EMS hopes to hire the seven new firefighter, EMT and paramedic professionals as soon as possible. In the meantime, they will have part-time staff standing by at the station for any calls that come their way.

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