Woodstock switching to 24-hour EMS coverage

Woodstock Volunteer Rescue Squad Company 5 is planning a change to 24-hour EMS coverage starting July 1.

David MacDonald, a volunteer EMT with the company, presented the company’s plan for 24-hour coverage at the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday night.

MacDonald said the change would not affect the operations of Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue. He said the idea is to enhance what is already in place.

In addition, MacDonald said that the company’s increased volunteer membership and staff size made the switch possible.

The company has six full-time employees and four per diem employees at the moment and, after July 1, that will increase to eight full-time and nine per diem, according to Christina Midkiff, president of the volunteer squad.

Midkiff also noted that the company has 15 active volunteer members as well as two associate members.

Brian Midkiff, career administrator for the company, said that career staff will work one 24-hour shift, with 72 hours off once the change takes effect.

Christina Midkiff said that the idea had been discussed for about a year, and that they formally came to decision on June 2.

“I brought it up last June and it took a little convincing, but everybody is on the same page,” Christina Midkiff said.

“We had some life members who were not willing to go 24/7 because they thought that it would possibly have repercussions … with the county,” Christina Midkiff added.

She said one reason for this coverage change was due to the volume of calls noticed throughout the county.

Brian Shank, a legal adviser for the company, said, “We all have been listening to the pager and hearing the number of calls during the daytime increasing. We need ambulances.

“This is the best way to cover our citizens in Woodstock.”

MacDonald indicated during his presentation that the squad has enjoyed a good working relationship with Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue and that members are looking to continue that moving forward.

County Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Yew said that he hopes to continue the working relationship the county has with Company 5.

“I do think that staff needs time to review this and make sure this working relationship will not interfere with that at all,” he said.

Supervisor Cindy Bailey questioned which company would have “first call leadership” in Woodstock moving forward.

Yew said that the operational leadership is something that will need to be discussed.

He added, “I’m assuming at this point that leadership of Woodstock Rescue would probably pick up the first call that comes in when the station is staffed by both entities.”

Board Chairman David Ferguson said the county should give Yew and his staff time to discuss a  future working arrangement with Midkiff.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com