Cutting rescue service would be a disservice

Published 9:55 am Friday, April 11, 2014


For over 33 years, I have served as a volunteer in Isle of Wight County. For the last 21 years I have served as Commissioner of Carrsville Fire Department. I have had the pleasure of seeing many positive changes to emergency services in Isle of Wight. I am writing today because I feel we are about to take a giant step backwards in the standard of care that has been established for our residents.

Roughly 10 years ago, the citizens south of Walters were served by Windsor Volunteer Rescue Squad. In an effort to get treatment to the citizens faster, Carrsville Fire Department decided to become a licensed first responder agency. Several years later, County Emergency Management entered into an agreement with the City of Franklin to provide transport service to most of this area to further speed up service.

About three years ago, the City of Franklin justifiably needed to go up on what they were charging the county to provide the transport service. This would not guarantee the availability of a medic for Isle of Wight residents, only that they would continue to provide the service. The Board at that time determined that for a little more money, they could staff a medic at our station 24 hours a day that was solely dedicated to Isle of Wight residents. The service of combining paid EMS providers with volunteers has worked out beautifully in Carrsville, and our citizens now have the same availability of quick transport to an emergency department that other areas of the county have enjoyed for years.

Now we have learned from our Board member Rex Alphin and the County Administrator Ann Seward that they may cut this service and give the money instead back to the City of Franklin. This is no slight to Franklin Fire and Rescue. This is only to say that they have to serve the Citizens of Franklin and Southampton first, then others.

This would mean no medic solely dedicated to the citizens south of Walters, a service the rest of the county enjoys. All to save $150,000. I ask, which citizen is willing to say their life is worth this sacrifice? Certainly not Mr. Alphin or Mrs. Seward. Mr. Alphin lives in Windsor Rescue’s district, so he would still have a medic readily available. Mrs. Seward lives in Surry County, where they pay to have staffing available as a supplement to the volunteers for their citizens.

While I do not envy the position of our Board members in finding ways to save money, public safety and public education are not the way to get there. If this decision is made, it is not a matter of if someone will die, rather when someone will die. Is that a burden worth bearing? I think not. The “7,500” people in the Carrsville District deserve the same standard of care as the rest of the good citizens of Isle of Wight. I encourage everyone south of Walters to contact Mr. Alphin and let him know this is not the way to save money.

Kevin Duck

Commissioner of Department