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Pamplin EMS transport service ending

Pamplin Volunteer Fire Department and EMS Inc. recently announced it would be discontinuing EMS transport services effective Jan. 1, 2021.

The statement from Pamplin EMS Captain Elijah Harrison noted the department’s fire services will remain the same.

“Since 2007, medical transportation by ambulance has been offered by our volunteers to anyone seeking our assistance,” Harrison said. “In 2015, daytime paid staffing was introduced to help supplement hours that volunteers were least available.

“Due to reasons beyond our control, the service is no longer maintainable and will be terminated,” he continued. “The difficult decision came after all efforts were exhausted to keep ambulance service available in the Pamplin area.”

Harrison said the decision was at least partly based on the growing cost of being an EMS transport service.

“We got into where it wasn’t financially responsible for us to use donations to continue our EMS transport agency,” he said. “The cost of being an EMS transport was constantly growing faster than our income was.”

Harrison noted that for the last 10 years, the emergency medical service (EMS) division of Pamplin Fire and EMS was always operating at a deficit, financially.

“There was never a point that we made anywhere close to a profit,” he said. “Although we are a nonprofit organization, you still need profit to run the business.”

Harrison confirmed the plan at this point is to discontinue not just Pamplin’s emergency transport service but its EMS program entirely while maintaining the hope that in the near or immediate future the department can provide first responder care on scene without the transport service.

“We want to quickly move to a first responder program,” he said. “We’re going to try to prevent as much lapse time as possible in between dropping our transport capabilities and doing a first responder (program). Our ultimate goal is to have no lapse time and just move from one program to another, but we don’t want to move too quick(ly) without having a strong foundation.”

He said the department has to look into the prospects of a first responder program and make sure it is sustainable and feasible to do instead of just jumping in and realizing they cannot do it and having to back out in a few months or years.

Harrison said call volumes increase every single year, noting this is especially true in an aging and growing community, with new people moving from urban to rural areas.

“It’s just more of a demand on the EMS system,” he said.

In the statement, Harrison said that though Pamplin Volunteer Fire and EMS Inc.’s ambulance service will no longer be active in 2021, the Pamplin area will still have ambulance services available.

Appomattox County Rescue Squad, Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad and Charlotte County Volunteer Rescue Squad will be returning as covering agencies, as it was prior to August 2007, he said.

From Jan. 1 to Wednesday morning, Sept. 23, Pamplin Volunteer Fire and EMS has answered 79 EMS calls for service in 2020. This call load will be added to the call volumes Appomattox, Prince Edward and Charlotte rescue squads already have.

“(The Pamplin area) will be covered, although any additional call volume increase to any agency right now is a strain,” Harrison said. “It’s still a strain on every agency out there, no matter if you’re a full volunteer (staff) or partial career or full career.”