County to end DRT contract

Published 5:19 pm Thursday, May 27, 2021

Buckingham County is preparing to end its EMS contract with Delta Response Team (DRT) in a move that will make all Buckingham EMS staff members county employees effective Sept. 1.

During a Monday, May 10, Buckingham Board of Supervisors meeting, Board Chair Don Matthews informed the board of a recommendation by the county’s Rescue Squad Committee to consider moving forward with plans for a completely county-managed EMS staff.

In 2020, the Buckingham Volunteer Rescue Squad transferred control of emergency medical services to the Buckingham County Emergency Services Department, giving control of Buckingham’s rescue squad to the county.

During this transition, Buckingham continued to contract the majority of its EMS staff through DRT.

In a Monday, May 25, interview, Buckingham Department of Emergency Services Director Cody Davis said the county continued to contract with the company in order to prevent further logistical burdens during this time of transition. Now that the county has had time to adjust to its new role, officials feel it is time to end this contract so the county can assume full control of rescue squad staffing.

Carter and several board members emphasized other counties in central Virginia have also begun making the move to establish a county-managed EMS team. With the field getting more competitive and with EMS personnel in short supply, the county is seeking to get its name in the hat.

Ending the DRT contract will leave some big holes to fill. According to Davis, the county currently has two 24-hour units staffed by DRT and one 12-hour unit which runs Monday through Friday and is staffed by county employees.

Davis said the county will have to bring on 15 new, full-time workers as well as several part-time employees in order to fill the new positions. Of those, approximately half can be basic level employees and half need to be medic-level staff members.

The goal is to get these new hires in place and through orientation by Sept. 1.

During Monday’s meeting, both Davis and the supervisors stressed several times the decision is not the result of any disagreement with DRT. Officials thanked the contractor for its assistance in helping to make the county’s EMS transition as smooth as possible.

Officials also noted the county has planned for this transition in its budget, as the cost for a fully county-operated rescue squad is similar to what the county was paying DRT.

The board voted unanimously to approve the recommendations.

“The time has come for Buckingham to expand this thing,” Matthews noted.