NSVRS closure could cost Suffolk dearly

Published 9:49 pm Friday, August 23, 2013

To the editor:

I have been a volunteer paramedic with Nansemond Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad for more than 20 years and involved as a volunteer in the commonwealth for almost 40 years.

Like many NSVRS volunteers, I am not a resident of Suffolk. I reside in Virginia Beach and travel to Suffolk because of the opportunities afforded for service. As the current chair for campus-based nursing programs nationwide for South University and a nurse practitioner in private practice, I received my start in health care as a teenage volunteer in a rescue squad much like the one that serves the citizens of Suffolk.

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There are untold benefits provided the city of Suffolk and beyond by the continued existence of the squad. These benefits are not included in the mission of the fire department and would be lost under the proposed changes.

Young people are attracted to organizations that give them a sense of purpose, camaraderie and self-worth. Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad has been the home of many such young people.

Through example and participation, the squad has given them experiences in service, sacrifice and commitment to their community that is unmatched by any other organization in the city. These experiences guide life choices in positive directions that lead them to be productive members of society.

They experience a culture of service. They meet and become colleagues with leaders of the community. Many of them have found careers, pathways to service and vocations they would not have found elsewhere. They are the nurses, career firefighters, career EMS providers, doctors, educators and leaders of our community.

This opportunity for Suffolk’s youth is not part of the mission of the fire department.

The squad has also reached beyond the borders of Suffolk. For decades, NSVRS has contributed to the development of regional EMS providers as a location for hands-on training on our ambulances.

Students from around the region have sought our personnel as trainers because of the quality of care and the diversity of calls available. Our volunteers have taught regionally, nationally and internationally as representatives of Suffolk.

Our volunteers designed and implemented the emergency medical technician program for the Philippines and introduced EMS and advanced cardiac life support training to Thailand, the Middle East, the Philippines, China and other developing nations.

These outreach projects representing Suffolk to the world are not a part of the mission of the fire department.

The critical mission of an EMS agency is to care for the community. This is a mission the squad has fulfilled for more than 50 years. Economies have changed, and the requirements of the mission have expanded beyond the capabilities of our organization.

Over time, we and the fire department adapted to those changes and worked together to meet the needs of the community. The rescue squad placed the first ambulances in fire stations around the city. Our members manned ambulances in multiple stations from Chuckatuck to Holland when the fire department did not want the responsibility.

Over time the increasing demand and community standards required the fire department to assume many of those duties. However, the changing environment and shifting responsibilities do not require relegating the squad to a second-line agency.

Nansemond Suffolk Rescue Squad provides substantial economic and developmental benefits to the city that would be lost if the squad were no longer a first-line responder for emergencies in our district.

We are part of this community and do not wish to stop serving our neighbors, but the current plan will essentially eliminate our purpose. Suffolk would lose a group of people dedicated to the needs of the citizens and an incredible resource.

W. Lawrence Daniels

Virginia Beach