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Vergennes Area Rescue: Big impact on a little city

During an emergency, the Shelburne Dispatch Center may take an emergency call and dispatch the Vergennes Area Rescue to the scene. The EMTs have a narrow five-minute window, from the time of the tone until the ambulance leaves the station, enroute to the scene.

Once an EMT crew arrives on the scene, members are in charge of assessing the patient and obtain a baseline set of vital signs; they then get the patient ready for a stretcher and determine which medical facility the patient should be transported to: either Porter Medical Center in Middlebury or Fletcher Allen Healthcare hospital in Burlington.

While enroute, EMTs perform many different tasks according to the patient's needs-everything from taking vital signs and noting physical and emotional changes, heart monitoring and 12-lead EKGs, to IVs. Since the ambulance experience can be harrowing for most patients, the most important aspect of an EMT's job is providing comfort and care enroute to a hospital. The Vergennes squad takes pride in making sure patients feel safe and secure during the ordeal.

Unfortunately, the biggest challenge facing Vergennes Rescue in years is a lack of volunteers, especially for being on call during daytime hours.

Despite this troubling, volunteer deficit faced by many squads around Vermont, there is some good news: the Vergennes squad recently purchased new equipment to help meet the complex demands of emergency situations. New rescue gear includes scoops and backboards, pediatric backboards, and a high-tech cardiac monitor. This gear is funded primarily through insurance billing, which turns out to be about 84 percent, while 10 percent comes from Vergennes municipal donations, followed by subscriptions at 4 percent, and 2 percent from donations and memorials.

While the Vergennes Area Rescue Squad is a nonprofit, volunteer agency, it must bill for its services; it's mission is to respond to any citizen calling for assistance-regardless of their ability to pay for the services provided. For individuals without insurance or deductibles, the Vergennes Rescue Squad offers a subscription program to help alleviate financial hardships.

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