Responding to emergencies in very rural Henry County, Virginia, for over 35 years
For over 35 years, the Ridgeway District Volunteer Rescue Squad (RDVRS) has fulfilled its mission to provide the highest level of emergency medical services and medical equipment for all residents of the Ridgeway District community and surrounding Henry County.
RDVRS serves the Ridgeway District of Henry County, which comprises an approximately seventy-five (75)-square mile area of rural community. The community contains some mountainous terrain of unpaved and unlit roads, completely isolated households, industries, commercial areas, etc. Almost 35% of the families that call this community their home have below poverty level incomes and close to 20% have achieved less than a high school level of education. People aged 55 years and older make up about 40% of the overall population.
The RDVRS provides the highest level of training available in the Commonwealth of Virginia to its entirely volunteer staff. Once trained, volunteers provide emergency medical assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for all residents of Ridgeway District. On average, the RDVRS receives anywhere from 3 to 5 medical emergency calls per day, with the average number increasing each year.
Notably, the RDVRS boasts quick response times to emergencies. Because its volunteers live in the area they serve, they know the fastest and safest routes to travel to emergencies. Also, in many cases they know the victim in need of rescue, so the trust relationship is already established and service is more efficient. In short, the RDVRS is a community asset with exceptional community support dedicated to saving lives.
RDVRS is truly a community-driven organization
RDVRS is 100% volunteer driven. RDVRS’s Board of Directors is comprised of three (3) dedicated community leaders who live and/or work in the Ridgeway District of Henry County, Virginia. In addition, fifty(50) additional volunteers provide emergency medical services and transport residents to the area hospital for the Ridgeway District.
The individuals serving as emergency medical response volunteers for the RDVRS make a significant commitment in terms of time and risk, dedicating to weeks of training annually, and 12-hour shifts on a weekly basis to respond to calls. Continuous recruitment of new volunteers occurs monthly and is always a need for the RDVRS. As dedicated as they are, the risk and emotional and physical energy drain of the job of RDVRS volunteers takes its toll and thus volunteer “burnout” and turnover is a concern. While there is no shortage of residents ready and willing to become trained, the job is very challenging both in terms of the time commitment, the risk and the emotional pressure of trying to save lives.
RDVRS aims to continue saving lives and educating the public for years to come
The Ridgeway District is predominantly a rural and low-income community
The Ridgeway District community is located in rural, Southern Virginia about 60 miles south of the City of Roanoke. Although the population is small – approximately 4,000 households – in 2010 the RDVRS provided medical services to nearly 10,000 individuals and over 40% of these calls were critical as regards the level of emergency. Regionally, the area’s demographics have changed dramatically over the past ten years, due in part to the closing of all of the manufacturing plants, which were the main source of employment for most residents of the community. Consider the following statistics:.
RDVRS benefits from the loyalty and commitment of the families and citizens in these communities through their willingness to volunteer extensive time toward providing response to local medical emergencies.
RDVRS has experienced a 40% increase in the number of emergency calls
Recently, due to response area changes implemented by the Henry County Board of Supervisors, RDVRS has witnessed a 40% increase in the number of emergency calls from residents of the Ridgeway District. The increase in number of calls is attributed, in addition to the changes in response zone by the County, an already significant and still growing elderly population in the area, and also physical development in the area resulting in a new highway, which is positive on the whole but also accounts for the area’s increase in traffic accidents, work-related injuries, etc. Among emergency calls received in 2010: