About Volunteering with the Wintergreen Rescue Squad
By Curtis Sheets, Chief of Wintergreen Fire and Rescue
Emergency Medical Service (EMS) calls are very different from fire calls. Most fires double in size every minute. Many times a fire truck is summoned by an alarm system or simply because a citizen has smelled smoke. Until the firefighters arrive on scene, they have no idea what they are dealing with; hence they drive fast and make lots of noise.
Responses to EMS calls come with many more clues. The dispatcher is able to interview the caller. There are times when every second matters, but on the overwhelming majority of calls that isn't the case and we try to drive in a way which matches the severity of the call.
Wintergreen’s rescue volunteers respond on average twice daily to 911 calls. A shift that begins at 8AM starts by checking in at their closest station to touch base with the staff, and familiarize themselves with equipment on the "front line" for the day. Some volunteers will spend their entire shift at the station, but most will go back to their residence where they stand by (in uniform) for a pending call. Our volunteers spend no less than 36 hours per month volunteering.
This volunteer-dependent staffing creates what staffers refer to as "The Wintergreen Parade." I’ll offer this example to explain:
A family is having lunch at the resort’s Copper Mine Restaurant on the mountain when suddenly the 56-year-old father begins complaining of difficulty breathing and chest pain. 911 is called. The Mountain Station, with two staff persons each trained in fire and rescue skills (fire-medics), responds with one person in an ambulance and another in a fire department response vehicle. (By responding in separate vehicles the team can split up if a fire call or additional medical call is received while the initial call is in progress.)
At the same time, the volunteer on duty is notified. In this case (on the mountain), if the volunteer driver on duty lives on the mountain, he or she responds directly to the scene. If the on-duty volunteer driver is in the valley he or she responds to the valley station where they pick up a response vehicle and head for the scene on the mountain.
The wait for a driver responding from a station further away is about 20 minutes. If the medic with the patient determines the call is a low priority, then the wait for a driver isn't overly inappropriate.
If the patient is a high priority, the two fire-medics work to get the patient moving towards the hospital ASAP. In this case the fire equipment is left at the scene for retrieval later. For the next 15-20 minutes, the mountain station will be unmanned but personnel are moving to fill in.
Meanwhile, the ambulance with the severely ill patient meets up with the responding driver at the mountain gatehouse where the volunteer driver and the second fire-medic trade places. The second fire-medic will either return to the mountain to secure the fire equipment, or, if the patient's condition requires it, both fire-medics ride in the rear of the ambulance while the volunteer drives. One of the two fire-medics in the valley station will transfer to the mountain where all stations are covered.
When a second and third call comes in at the same time, this parade can become a circus and our volunteers are even more essential. Ideally Wintergreen Fire and Rescue would have enough volunteers to have a volunteer on-duty at both the mountain and the valley.
The process to become a rescue volunteer is straightforward. After a routine background check, your application (go here to download the PDF) is considered by the Volunteer Rescue Board and you can begin training. With the exception of training to be a state certified EMS tech, you schedule your own training and attend monthly training meetings. We ask that you be on call around 36 hours a month but usually volunteers can can wait to be called to the scene from their Wintergreen home. Training is typically done in-house.
Interested? Contact me directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 434-325-8536. I will be happy to answer your questions and get the process started.
Info on firefighting volunteers is HERE.
Wintergreen Property Owners Volunteer Rescue Squad Roster
Ronald J Duddleston*
Richard C Gilliland**
Ross D Hasson*
William "Bill" Muse
Wintergreen Property Owners Volunteer Rescue Squad Board of Directors
President - Houston Sorenson
Vice President - Wayne Hachey
Secretary - Curtis McIver
Treasurer - John Harrington
Curtis Sheets - Staff
Mike Riddle- Staff