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Vergennes Area Rescue: Big impact on a little city

Editor's Note: This is one of a year-long series profiling volunteer rescue and fire squads in Addison County and southern Chittenden County. The articles are written by decorated EMT volunteer and reporter Angela DeBlasio of Brandon.

Vergennes is considered to be Vermont's oldest and smallest city. The "Little City" is located 25 miles south of Burlington and 12 miles north of Middlebury. It's home to approximately 2,800 residents and its municipal boundaries cover 1,200 acres.

For such a little city, Vergennes boasts one of the state's most highly recognized volunteer organizations-a group of highly trained, dedicated emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

Thirty-three volunteer members respond to up to 900 calls per year in the Vergennes area. The squad's service area includes Vergennes, Panton, Waltham, Ferrisburgh, Addison and parts of New Haven and Monkton.

The Vergennes Area Rescue Squad is composed of skilled first responders, EMT-basics, and EMT-intermediates; they provide quality, advanced life-support care to the city and the adjoining communities.

Each volunteer Vergennes EMT gives a lot of personal time to the service of the local community. These volunteers choose between part-time-four 12-hour-shifts or full time-six 12- hour-shifts.

In addition to being on duty around the clock, Vergennes EMTs are responsible for their own continuing education-approximately 24 hours every two years, as required by the state guidelines. And just like every other volunteer rescue and fire squad in Vermont, there's a big time commitment with hours spent away from families and friends. It's all part of the job description.

When this writer asked an anonymous Vergennes volunteer why he continues to serve with no pay, the response required no hesitation: "I volunteer because it's the gratification knowing that we're helping people in need and that we're able to comfort patients that are injured or sick. Plus, there's the adrenaline rush when the tone sounds-it's hard work but it's also very exciting, very rewarding work."

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