By JIMMY LAWTON
WADDINGTON -- Waddington's rescue squad needs more volunteers or it will be forced to hire paid emergency medical technicians, which could cost victims more money.
"If we fail to recruit enough members, we will not be able to continue our volunteer service to our community due to lack of coverage," Waddington Volunteer Rescue Squad Chief Kelly Mayette said.
She said the volunteer rescue squad does soft billing, which means they only charge for transports if victims have insurance.
"So if you don’t have any, we don’t charge. If we have to bring in a paid department then they will charge, no matter what. Our community can not afford that, especially our Hamilton Garden residents, and elderly residents," she said.
Mayette said the rescue squad has been short on members for some time, but the recent departure of a dedicated member and another to follow soon will be crippling to Waddington's emergency service providers.
"We are and always have been a small department, but in the last year we lost one, very dedicated member who was able to take a lot of calls due to having a part-time job. Now we are about to lose another due to her EMT card running out," Mayette said.
She said more stringent regulations are part of the problem.
"They recently increased hours needed to be certified as an EMT. It is now approximately 130 hours of schooling to become certified, and it is not just initial training, you must maintain a certain number of training to keep your card active."
Mayette said soon the department will consist of herself and one other active EMT. She said the squad has two other EMTs, but they have been too busy to help.
Mayette said the squad has also has two active Certified First Responders, which requires less schooling hours, but those members can not transport patients to the hospital, unless they are with an EMT.
"We are also in need of drivers, also. We have the Waddington Volunteer Fire Department that helps us out as much as they can, but when we are in a situation that requires both departments, they need to do their job first," she said.
Mayette said the squad is capable of supplying new volunteers with proper training, there seems to be a lack of interest in the rescue squad, a problem that hasn’t been seen on Waddington's Volunteer Fire Department.
"For some reason, our department does not get the younger generation as the fire department does. I guess everyone grows up and wants to be a fireman, not an EMT," she said.
In order to track down volunteers Mayette said the squad will send out a town mailing.
Mayette understands that the being an EMT is not something everyone can do, but added that the volunteer service is rewarding for those who can stomach the job.
"That is what we are looking for. That someone special that can be in the middle of something and drop everything and be called out in the middle of the night, in the cold, to help a friend, neighbor, or even a stranger," she said.
Anyone interested in joining the squad should call 388-5641.