Partnership between Rappahannock, Warren ‘too good of a deal to pass up’
Thanks to a mutual aid partnership between Warren and Rappahannock, Chester Gap Volunteer Fire and Rescue has been able to hire part-time career staff to provide advanced life support (ALS) to citizens on both sides of the county line.
“We started this partnership with both counties out of necessity due to staffing during COVID,” said Todd Brown, CGVFR chief, in a press release last week. “But the opportunity to provide advanced life support through a continued agreement to all the residents we serve was too good of a deal to pass up.”
CGVFR became the first company in the county to hire paid staff alongside volunteers. “During COVID both Warren and Rappahannock County funded an EMT which proved critical in ensuring emergency medical service calls were answered,” said Kevin Williams, president of the fire company.
Previously, CGVFR used two paid staff to run a basic life support (BLS) ambulance, but the upgraded medical unit equipped with cardiac monitors and airway monitors now allows paramedics to start an IV, administer drugs and deliver a higher level of care. “We’ve had calls where it has made a difference,” Brown said. “We’ve had several heart attack calls and … you’re not waiting eight to 10 minutes for somebody to respond, I mean they’re out the door. We had a call the other day and [the paramedics] were out the door and on the scene in three minutes.”
And because of the cost-sharing agreement with Warren County, Brown said Rappahannock is getting a big bang for its buck.“We are piloting an ALS program that has never been tried in Rappahannock for a fraction of the cost of hiring full-time paramedics,” Williams said.
“It’s a big savings to the county because we’re managing it, it’s being done as a part-time position … [and] Warren County is paying for one person and Rappahannock is paying for the other, so it’s kind of a buy-one-get-one-free type deal,” he said. “So far it’s really been a good program.”
Brown added that other fire and rescue agencies in the region, like Warrenton’s Fire Department, are looking to CGVFR as a model. “They’re curious about the steps that I took to get this started, so they’re interested in it. … The quick response makes a big difference.”