County partners with Delta Response Team for rescue services

County partners with Delta Response Team for rescue services

By Heather Michon, Correspondent

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors recently approved a $438,000 contract with Appomattox-based Delta Response Team (DRT) to provide 24-7 emergency medical staffing for the Fluvanna rescue squad.

Like many rural localities, Fluvanna has to supplement volunteers with paid staff. “Obviously, having a strong volunteer base is preferable,” said Cyndi Toler, purchasing officer, in an email. “Unfortunately, it has been difficult to keep enough volunteers to provide appropriate EMS coverage to citizens.”

Fluvanna covers 290 square miles and has about 26,000 residents. Last year, county rescue squads answered about 2,600 calls.

For the past four years, the county has worked with University of Virginia Medic V in Charlottesville. With that contract at an end, a request for proposals was issued, and Delta Response Team turned out to be the strongest of the four candidates interviewed by the selection committee.

“The big standouts were the owners, Susan and Tom Walton,” said Toler. “Their passion and excitement for what they do is unparalleled.”

Established by the Waltons in 2010 to provide emergency medical services (EMS) teams in rural areas, DRT now has similar contracts in Appomattox, Farmville, Lynchburg, Buckingham, and outside Richmond. They currently have 70 employees and a fleet of 14 ambulances.

In part because of their work in Buckingham, they were “somewhat familiar with the Fluvanna area and [its] EMS system,” said DRT president Susan Walton via email. “After hearing [the county’s] EMS needs, we felt it would be a good fit for both the county and DRT.”

The biggest challenge rural localities face in providing EMS services is “finding highly qualified EMTs that are experienced and able to handle difficult calls with limited resources,” Walton added.

Under the contract, DRT will hire and manage six full-employees who will staff county ambulances round-the-clock, 365 days a year. They’ll be taking over operations in October.

“We’ll be hiring locally, but we do have a few current employees who live in the area that will be transferring to Fluvanna,” said Walton. The positions will offer “competitive pay and a full benefits package.”

One change DRT recommended was migrating from 12-hour shifts to 24-hour shifts. Walton says 24-hour shifts, when teams are on duty for 24 hours and then off for 48 hours, have multiple benefits, including less frequent shift changes and “greater periods of rest and needed downtime.”

Another thing that impressed the selection committee was the Waltons’ commitment to volunteerism. Susan is a 17-year veteran of the Appomattox County Rescue Squad and has served as captain for the past nine years; Tom is second lieutenant of the same squad.

“The committee really felt they could work well with both current and future volunteers in our county,” said Toler. “That was very important to us; we were not looking for a company to come in and ‘take over’ the rescue [squad]. We want someone to work with, and help grow, our volunteer base.”

Echoing Toler’s point, Walton said, “We’re not here to take over as a career system, but to supplement the foundation that is already in place.” This can be done by encouraging volunteers “to train and run calls with our career providers, building confidence in skills and positive interaction with each other.”

“To grow a volunteer system, you must have happy, active volunteers,” Walton added. “Volunteers need to feel significant and utilized, as they should be. We’re motivated to help promote volunteerism and are excited to see what the future holds.”

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