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New EMS squad 'beneficial' to area
SAFER grant enabled county to hire, train 13-member crew
Thursday, April 10, 2014
By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer
A new paid 13-member EMS squad in Henry County already is proving beneficial to the area, according to Public Safety Director Rodney Howell.
In December, County Administrator Tim Hall announced at the monthly Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had approved a $1,355,829 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.
The grant was designed to cover the cost of wages and training for the 13-member squad for two years.
According to Howell, the members of the EMS squad were hired and working by Feb. 28. To take full advantage of the grant, he said, all members of the squad had to be hired by March 1.
So far, he said, the response to the squad has been positive.
“It’s been very beneficial to everybody,” Howell said. “I’ve heard only positive comments from the fire departments” that the squad has assisted.
In March, Howell said, there were 514 total EMS calls in Henry County. The new squad members responded to 252 of those calls themselves and assisted with 78 additional calls.
Also, Howell said, there were 152 fire calls in the county in March. The new squad assisted county fire departments on 32 of those calls.
Those numbers do not include EMS calls or fires in Martinsville the squad assisted with, Howell said, such as the massive March 3 fire at the former American of Martinsville furniture plant.
The squad, Howell said, is comprised of former volunteer firefighters from Henry County and Martinsville, and a few come from neighboring counties, such as Franklin, Patrick and Pittsylvania.
Members of the squad are placed at different county fire departments depending on where the need is anticipated to be greatest at a given time, Howell said, based on call statistics culled from previous years.
“So far, the program’s definitely been a success,” he said. “I expect it will continue to prove its value.”