Kentuck Volunteer Fire Department loses EMS license due to lack of volunteers

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 4:52 PM EDT
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PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - The Kentuck Volunteer Fire Department has lost its EMS license due to a lack of volunteers, but will continue to respond to all fire-related calls.

The Kentuck Volunteer Fire Department was established in 2001. Since then, Chief Terry Barker says the number of volunteers has dwindled.

“It’s getting to the time, especially with the way the economy’s going, people really don’t have the time,” said Terry Lee Barker, Chief of the Kentuck Volunteer Fire Department. “Everybody’s working a couple jobs to make ends meet. Plus, newer generations don’t have the mindset of doing anything for free.”

The chief says the lack of volunteers and EMTs is what led to the expiration of the EMS license. They were not able to file the required reports and background checks in time, causing them not to pass inspection.

They are also required to cover 70% of their EMS calls to receive funding from the county. Last year, they answered less than 50%.

They covered 92% of their fire calls.

“It’s very disheartening. Most volunteer agencies, especially fire and rescue, are considered a kind of a backbone of the community. We love to provide those services, and the community supports us well. Everything we’ve got here has either been through federal grants or community support,” added Chief Barker.

The Ringgold and Blairs Fire and Rescue Departments will take over their EMS calls. Pittsylvania County Public Safety will serve as backup responders.

Residents in the Kentuck area could experience a maximum delay of four minutes, depending on the location.

“We’d normally first respond and provide services until an ambulance can get there. Ringgold Volunteer Fire and Rescue and Blair’s Volunteer Fire and Rescue are our providers for our territory. They do a great job of covering their calls for the most part unless they have multiple going on. The only shortfall in the community is maybe the time of response first to get there,” said Chief Barker.

They plan to re-apply for the EMS license as soon as all state requirements are met. They hope to have the license back by the end of this year.