by Chief Curtis Sheets,
Wintergreen Fire and Rescue
Wintergreen Fire & Rescue is not just Wintergreen Fire & Rescue. It’s a complex organization with multiple approaches in play. Why? Because the economies of scale work well in providing emergency services in communities such as ours.
“Wintergreen Rescue and WPOA have served Nelson County as Emergency Medical Services vendors since 2006."
We not only use a volunteer/career system, but we also use a public/private approach. The goal (mission) has been to provide a high level of service at a lower cost for not only Wintergreen but also in Nelson County. Here, briefly, is how it works:
The Wintergreen Rescue Squad and Wintergreen Fire Department are separate non-profit organizations led by two volunteer Boards of Directors. Both agencies provide much-needed volunteer labor to mitigate emergencies at Wintergreen and surrounding areas.
Both raise funds to support all capital and many operating expenses. The Fire Department fund-drive kicks off in February and the Rescue Squad starts in August. Donations are frequently used to attract matching grants from local, state, and federal programs.
Our two nonprofits are backed up with heavy support from the Wintergreen Property Owners Association. The two stations (located on Wintergreen Drive on the mountain and on Monocan Drive in the valley) are owned and maintained by WPOA. WPOA provides a professional staff to assure immediate and appropriate response to all 911 emergencies. WPOA funds all personnel funding and makes an annual contribution to each agency to offset uniforms and training.
The career staff and Wintergreen volunteers work together to meet our community needs in the most cost-effective way possible. For example, every ambulance crew consists of a volunteer driver/EMT and a professional paramedic.
There are two staff firefighter-paramedics on duty at each station 24-hours a day. There is usually a fifth firefighter-paramedic serving as a “floating supervisor.”
The valley and mountain crews respond to about a thousand emergency calls a year. Emergency calls are received and dispatched by the Wintergreen Police Department from their communications center located at the mountain gatehouse.
Ambulances with “Nelson EMS – Staffed by Wintergreen Rescue” are our Lovingston-based trucks.
Wintergreen Rescue and WPOA have served Nelson County as Emergency Medical Services vendors since 2006.
This contractual arrangement was initiated to augment the volunteer emergency services efforts countywide, including the Wintergreen community.
This is called the “Nelson EMS” part of Wintergreen’s operations. This label reflects not only where the services are provided, but who is responsible for providing funding. Nelson County reimburses WPOA for all expenses related to this program.
Approximately 1,600 emergency calls are handled by Nelson EMS each year. The county staffs two paramedic ambulances by day and one by night. The hub for this operation is in Lovingston, but during high tourism seasons a county ambulance is stationed in Nellysford to support travelers on Route 151.
The leadership of Wintergreen and the county have seen the benefits of this arrangement. Both Wintergreen Fire and Wintergreen Rescue frequently respond to calls in the county that aren’t covered under a contract. At the same time, Nelson County volunteers are often essential to extinguishing large fires at Wintergreen. That the Nelson County Board of Supervisors has provided over $400,000 in recent years to support Wintergreen capital acquisitions speaks well to its effectiveness.
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