Martinsville Fire Department could soon be able to respond to more EMS calls

City's budget could include money for department to staff third ambulance

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The Martinsville Fire Department wants to respond to more EMS calls.

But in order to do that, the department needs more money from the city.

The department currently has three ambulances, with one serving as a backup.

To change that, Martinsville Fire Chief Ted Anderson would like $110,000 more in the upcoming budget than the department is currently set to receive.

"Right now, we are turning over approximately, on average, 15 calls a month," Anderson said.

That means an average of 15 calls a month have to be covered by a rescue squad in Henry County or a private ambulance service because the fire department doesn't have enough ambulances. 

The $110,000 would allow the department to use the third ambulance.

"We would staff that ambulance during the day Monday through Friday, which is our peak time. We would hire two paramedics to staff that ambulance," Anderson said.

Anderson believes two-thirds of the money can be recouped with the medical expenses residents will pay for using the ambulance.

He said being able to cover more calls is important.

"This would mean a lot for the citizens of Martinsville to be able to do that. It would mean a lot for the department itself to know that we are still able to take care of our citizens," Anderson said.

Extra money to run the ambulance was suggested at a recent budget work session when Martinsville Mayor Gene Teague asked department heads what they would do if they were given extra money.

"There is no additional revenue at this point, so it means you would have to cut somewhere else or you'd have to dip further into fund balance, which is risky," Teague said.

A final budget work session will be held Monday night ahead of the budget being presented to the public at Tuesday's city council meeting.

"(On Monday night,) we'll go through some other budget departments and we will have the opportunity to make additional cuts if we want to," Teague said.

Teague didn't want to speculate Monday about what cuts council members might be willing to make.

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