Squad holding fund drive

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The average cost of a paid ambulance call in Norfolk and other Hampton Roads cities runs from $300 for a basic life support response, to $800 for advanced life support. In Suffolk, those in need of emergency medical attention pay nothing for the same services, and the men and women of the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad are working hard to keep it that way.

Barbara Rayburn, squad treasurer, said the organization kicks off its largest annual fund raiser of the year this month, and is hoping every Suffolk family will open their hearts to provide financial support.

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This fund drive supports the squad’s operations throughout the year, said Rayburn. She explained that the squad is not a city agency and the organization is totally dependent on contributions from residents, clubs, civic groups, churches, and grants.

Rayburn added that the squad has an operating budget of $200,000 per year, and that amount pays for insurance, vehicle and building maintenance, first aid supplies, equipment purchase, and much more.

&uot;Keeping the squad up and running is an expensive proposition, but we do not charge for our services,&uot; she said. &uot;We are dedicated to making sure that people in Suffolk continue to have the superior emergency medical response team they’ve been accustomed to since 1987. This is why the February Fund Drive is so important to us.&uot;

The squad was first established in 1960, and every year since the number of emergency medical responses has continued to increase. In 2003, the squad rolled its rescue vehicles out more than 7,000 times and not one penny was ever charged to any recipient of their services.

Emergency Medical Services Chief Robert W. &uot;Rusty&uot; Hundley said $200,000 is needed this year.

&uot;It’s been estimated that the squad saves taxpayers in excess of $1 million a year when compared to taxpayer-funded departments of city government,&uot; said Hundley.

Most of the contributions to the squad come from private donors with the balance from state and local grants, as well as a small portion from the City of Suffolk.

Many local businesses contribute financial support to the squad and three vehicle dealerships help out in an important manner.

Clay White, vice president of Starr Motors, said his family’s business, Duke Auto and Mike Duman Auto all work together to help the squad serve citizens of Suffolk.

&uot;Through an agreement between Starr, Duke and Duman, we take turns in providing an emergency response vehicle for the squad each year,&uot; said White. &uot;We work through SuffolkFirst Bank and they are extremely dedicated to helping the squad. This year, it was Starr Motors’ turn to buy the vehicle and we feel that we were blessed to be able to help such a great organization.&uot;

There are many other ways in which to donate to the squad including using your Food Lion MVP card. Each time shoppers check out at the store, they should have the cashier scan the MVP cards so that Food Lion Inc. gives a portion of their profits to the NSVRS.

Shoppers must register their MVP card on Food Lion’s website for the card to contribute to the squad. Register at www.foodlion.com

Speaking of websites, visit the NSVRS’s site, www.nsvrs.org, where donations may be made there. It is a safe, quick and easy way to contribute. Through the website, donors can make a one-time contribution or spread out contributions over time by using credit cards. Please make at least a $25 donation if using a credit card since the fees charged by the banks would be greater when the amount of the gift is less than $25. Of course, for those who cannot make a contribution of that amount or higher, the squad is most appreciative of any donation if made by check or cash.

The NSVRS is a United Way agency, and many people make memorial donations on behalf of a loved one.

Those who would like to make donations by mail, send checks to NSVRS, P.O. Box 1515, Suffolk, VA. 23439-1515. Please do not send cash by mail.

Anyone who would like to visit the squad to learn more about organization or to make a contribution in person, go to 428 Market St. Also, there is a locked drop box inside the door if you prefer to leave your donation there.