Recently Jennifer Lewis penned a letter to the editor regarding the Waynesboro First Aid Crew.
Her support is appreciated as is her assessment that WFAC could use more assistance. She is absolutely correct, however, there were a few items in her letter to clarify.
The overwhelming majority of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls in Waynesboro are handled by WFAC without any assistance from others. There are instances when the Waynesboro Fire Department (WFD) arrive first on the scene or alongside WFAC for more serious calls.
Occasionally, when all ambulance crews from WFAC are assigned to other calls, WFD will use an ambulance from WFAC and handle the call entirely. This model is very efficient, as it saves the citizens of Waynesboro from having to purchase a back-up ambulance for use by WFD staff when they transport.
The City of Waynesboro has, and continues, to financially support WFAC. In addition to the $64,000 provided this year, most radio equipment, access to approximately $19,000 per year for equipment, supplies and training, life insurance for volunteers and staff, in addition to discounted rates on utilities and fuel are all provided. Support from the City of Waynesboro has always been present even though Virginia law only mandates that the locality provide police and fire responders.
The challenge for all volunteer fire and EMS agencies can be traced to the “Great Recession of 2008." Volunteers needed multiple jobs to support their families and time available for volunteerism diminished. Agencies in our region with high call volume were forced to hire professional staff. To offset costs, agencies began charging insurance carriers. This practice is called “revenue recovery."
Now, a decade later, we know it is impossible to recover enough revenue to offset expenses. Sadly, while our area non-profit rescue squads were transitioning to this new model, they all but stopped fundraising in the communities. As an independent, non-governmental entity, WFAC must rely on the generosity and partnership with the City of Waynesboro and the revenue recovery collected.
WFAC handles nearly 5,000 emergency calls per year. We do this by employing a professional staff of EMTs and paramedics, who are augmented by a group of volunteers. Our volunteers remain a very important part of the equation. More volunteers will always be needed. Because revenue recovery falls short of expenses, support from the City of Waynesboro, as well as donations from citizens and businesses are paramount to our sustainability. Although we do invoice for transports, we maintain our registered 501 (c)3 non-profit status which allows all donations to WFAC to be tax-deductible.
We always invite members of the public to learn more about us. You may find us online, on Facebook or Instagram, or better yet stop by to meet us. We are your neighbors and we much prefer to meet you when you are not experiencing an emergency.
Chairman of the Board
Waynesboro Rescue Squad
Executive Director & Life Member
Waynesboro Rescue Squad