Celebrating rescue plan

Published 5:13 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019

In a time where fire departments and rescue squads have seen increased challenges related to staffing, communication, affording equipment and training regionally and nationally, it’s been encouraging to see the months of work various fire departments in Buckingham County have done to ensure increased communication and efficient response times for the whole county.

In a presentation by Cody Davis, E-911 Coordinator/Emergency Services Manager Feb. 11, the departments used Geographic Information System (GIS) tools to compute travel times and pinpoint the times it takes for each volunteer fire department or rescue squad in the county to respond to different places in the county. The maps Davis showed were able to pinpoint which areas would take various fire departments 10, 20 or 30 minutes or more to respond.

He said the goals for this new development are to create new “first due” (first responder) E911 response areas for each fire department, to create new call-out messages (MSAG) for the (Virginia Department of Transportation) VDOT-based E911 system with up to five responders and include none Buckingham departments if necessary for responders 3, 4 and 5.

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This project to increase communication and efficient response could also call upon fire departments in other counties if it’s needed.

This system, Davis said, would be implemented for the worst-case scenarios.

“Since they are Buckingham County residents and taxpayers … it’s not going to be like we’re going to push off our problems onto the other localities,” Davis said during the meeting. “We’re still going to send at least two Buckingham agencies, so that we make a valiant effort to look out for our own. (There’s) no pride-filled decisions in there. We’re still going to offer the proper assistance immediately. It’s no longer going to be a judgment call. It’s going to be laid out pretty black-and-white.”

The struggles to maintain proper staffing and response times, as well as effective communication between departments have resulted in very real consequences for the region. This development led by Buckingham fire chiefs and Davis, as well as funding for the fire departments and rescue squads by the county, play an integral role in the future of emergency services in the county.

I’m grateful to have the opportunity to see the results of months of planning and collaboration between emergency service personnel, and am excited to see how this project develops and ultimately benefits the county and region.

EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Emily.Hollingsworth@FarmvilleHerald.com.