Emergency crew saw calls jump in 2012
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Apr 3, 2013, 11:32
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Hopewell Emergency Crew Chief Mike Davis stands inside of the garage doors at its station.
The Hopewell Emergency Crew saw a big jump in calls last year and is looking to add volunteers to handle the increased workload.
Emergency Crew Chief Mike Davis said the crew responds to anything and everything, and he said the mission statement is clear with every call, “To give the best care that we can give every single time.”
The emergency crew is the primary provider of emergency services in the city. Davis said the crew responds to everything from calls for public assistance to cardiac arrests. The crew also provides standby services for the fire and police departments.
The number of calls increased 28 percent last year.
In 2012, the Hopewell Emergency Crew answered 1,531 calls, an average of 128 per month. In 2011, the crew responded to 1,195 calls, for an average of around 100 a month. In 2010, the crew answered 1,384 calls, for an average of 115 per month.
Though the majority of the calls that are dispatched to the crew are in Hopewell, the crew also responds to the neighboring communities. Of those 1,531 calls in 2012, 47 were in Prince George, seven were in Charles City, four in Colonial Heights and one call in Petersburg, New Kent and Chesterfield.
“If we have a truck available, we are the first responders, the first out,” Davis said. “We are the primary responders for the city of Hopewell.”
Though the crew is considered the primary responders for Hopewell, they are a separate entity from the city. The only funding the crew receives from the city is for fuel and maintenance costs. The other costs come from “cost recovery.”
Davis explained if a person is transported, they are billed for the services and the cost is determined on the level of care that is provided on the call. He said that started about 10 years ago. Prior to that, the crew relied solely on donation and grants.
While the crew now does cost recovery, which help cover their operating budget of $275,000 a year, Davis said he is still working on getting more grants for his crew. The last grant the crew received was three years ago for $70,000. Davis said with the funding, they were able to purchase a new truck.
Davis said he wants to apply for more grants to help cover the costs for another truck, which costs anywhere from $125,000 to $150,000. The crew’s oldest truck is from 1996 and their newest is a 2010 model.
Davis said he is looking into Department of Homeland Security Grants and Fireman Association Grants as well as grant money from the state, the Cameron Foundation and the John Randolph Foundation, to help fund another large project, a new building for the crew.
“Our five-year goal is to have a new building. This building has been here since 1954, with some renovations done to it over the years here and there,” Davis said.
The building was put up for the crew shortly after they were established in 1945, branching off from the Southside Emergency Crew. Davis said the industries in the city were instrumental in helping get the crew off the ground. 67 years ago the crew began with two trucks and a boat, as the crew used to do river rescues as well as medical and trauma.
While the crew no longer does river rescues, the crew still responds to medical and trauma needs in the community. The crew, comprised of 42 volunteers, has members starting at age 16.
Davis, who started as a junior with the crew 36 years ago, said the members are at various levels from training, such as driver only to paramedics. The crew also provides basic and advanced life support, with basic being initial care and advanced care providers who are operating under the license of an emergency room doctor and can administer drugs and start IVs.
Crew members also undergo a large amount of training before getting behind the wheel of the ambulance. A basic EMT class is 155 hours, intermediate level is over 300 hours and to become a paramedic, it is required to have over 800 training hours. All crew members are trained in emergency vehicle operation, a 16-hour course, and CPR training, an 8-hour course.
While the training for the crew members can be extensive, Davis said another goal he has for the next five years is to increase the membership of his crew, which at its peak in the 1980s was at 50 people.
“Volunteering here is rewarding,” Davis said. “We have lots of opportunities for membership and for people to volunteer here. We would like to be here for another 67 years doing the same thing, finding the best care possible, but it does take dedicated people to do this.”
Davis said whether the crew is there to help provide assistance to the fire department if they need a vehicle, or to respond to a neighboring community, or to answer the call of a resident in need, he said the crew leaves the building right off City Point Road in Hopewell with one goal in mind.
“If it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and we need to help someone that’s fallen out of bed and we need to put them back in bed, or somebody just needs something, we respond,” Davis said. “Any time that phone rings, somebody is trying their best to respond to it.”