Bedford County Fire and Rescue to absorb historic volunteer squad

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BEDFORD COUNTY, Va (WDBJ7) Bedford County Fire and Rescue is absorbing the oldest volunteer rescue squad in the county.

The Bedford Life Saving Crew is a local legend, making history time and time again.

It's been staffed by volunteers since 1943.

Back then the crew had a much larger membership, but it's seeing fewer volunteers now.

"Having to manage the volunteer side of it running calls and then also some of the personnel and some of the administrative tasks behind the scenes, it's overwhelming," Tina Witt of the Bedford Life Saving Crew Board of Managers said.

Monday night the Bedford County Board of Supervisors voted to absorb the volunteer squad as part of its career department.

Dwindling volunteerism and increasing commitment requirements took their toll.

"Standards of care have increased to the point where you can't water down requirements so you're basically in a catch 22," Bedford Life Saving Crew Board of Directors Chairman John Messier said.

Volunteers stayed busy, but career crews typically covered 90 percent of the calls.

Bedford County will take over management of the squad at minimal cost.

And most importantly, when you dial 911 there really won't be a noticeable difference.

"The county will be operating and maintaining that facility as opposed to the rescue squad and we are involved with the day to day activities," Bedford County Administrator Carl Boggess said.

It's a move that is seen equitable for all.

"It's sad that the tradition ends, but as a board we recognized that we just got to be able to bring it around and that's just the way it is," Messier said.

But despite the change, this legend's mission is still the same.

"We're here to serve, so when you dial 911 someone will respond,"Witt said.

As part of the transition the county formally thanked the crew for its decades of service.

The chase for more volunteers isn't over though.

The Bedford Life Saving Crew is still looking to add more volunteers to its ranks.