County plans to station responders in Orkney Springs

Shenandoah County can put more emergency responders in the western area thanks to the Woodstock Volunteer Rescue Squad.

The Department of Fire and Rescue plans to put paid responders at the Orkney Springs Fire and Rescue Station to work 24 hours per day, Monday-Friday, County Administrator Mary Beth Price announced Wednesday. Assigning responders to the western corridor Monday through Friday, 24 hours per day, is expected to begin July 13.

The decision to reposition paid responders comes after the recent announcement by the Woodstock Volunteer Rescue Squad to increase their coverage to 24-hours per day, seven days a week. Representatives of the volunteer organization announced its intentions to the Board of Supervisors last week.

Woodstock Volunteer Rescue Squad President Christina Midkiff requested that the agency present its plans to the board at last week’s meeting, Price recalled. Midkiff also has since met with county officials as the department considered its options.

Neither Midkiff nor other representatives of the rescue squad were available for comment Wednesday.

Woodstock Volunteer Rescue Squad’s decision also means the county can expand coverage for Conicville, Orkney Springs and the western corridor without adding positions in the county’s budget, Price noted. Likewise, existing county resources can provide backup for Woodstock Rescue on the agency’s second-due emergency calls.

“It’s a good thing,” Price said. “It’s a win-win for both organizations.”

Department Deputy Chief Tim Williams said Wednesday that Orkney Springs Fire and Rescue Station seems the logical place to assign a two-person crew on a 24-hour, five-day per week schedule.

“Obviously we have needs everywhere, but remember that any time we address those needs we have to increase revenue some way in some form to pay for what we add,” Williams said. “With Woodstock’s additional coverage, that has allowed us to use current resources to answer another existing area of concern.”

While Woodstock’s staffing expansion began Wednesday, Williams explained that the county department’s scheduling changes can’t take effect until July 13.

“Everything’s gonna work just fine,” Williams said.

The western corridor encompasses the first-due call areas for Conicville and Orkney Springs stations, which includes the communities of Bryce Resort, Basye, Orkney Springs, Jerome and Conicville.

The county department had previously stationed paid responders at the Woodstock rescue station for 10-hour, daytime shifts, Monday through Friday.

The department provides paid responders at Orkney Springs Fire and Rescue and to Conicville Fire and Rescue during daylight hours Monday through Friday. The responders alternate shifts at each station on a weekly basis.

The county received a request in 2011 from Orkney Springs for help with daylight coverage. The next year Orkney Springs asked for the county’s help to provide 24-7 coverage with paid responders.

Staffing fire and rescue stations around the county, especially those serving the western corridor, became a major topic this spring as the Board of Supervisors worked on the fiscal 2016 budget. Representatives from Orkney Springs and Conicville again came before the Board of Supervisors to seek the county’s help.

Repositioning of existing department staff also includes the deployment of a two-person ambulance crew from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, at the county agency’s training grounds on Landfill Road, north of Edinburg. This unit provides coverage for second-due calls in the Woodstock area and to supplement coverage elsewhere in the county, Williams said.

Woodstock Volunteer Rescue Squad responds to emergency medical services calls. The Woodstock Volunteer Fire Department responds to fires and similar emergencies. However, all county-employed responders are trained as both firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com