Future of Life Saving Crew Questioned

Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Parker Slaybaugh

Lynchburg, VA - Whenever a life-threatening situation has come up in the Hill City, the Lynchburg Life Saving Crew's been ready for nearly 80 years. But now, its future is being called in to question.

Some ask whether it's worth paying a volunteer life saving crew when there's also a staffed fire department with paid personnel. The city gives a $10,000 fuel subsidy; the life saving crew gets most of its money from donations. But, Lynchburg City Council Member H. Cary worries the city, and taxpayers, may not be getting the right bang for their buck.

Lynchburg's Life Saving Crew is dedicated to its work. But, keeping the most experienced volunteers, known as advanced life support or ALS, on board for a lifetime of service isn't easy, says President Joyce Sachs.

"The board of directors is very aware of this situation. That's one of our biggest problems really is keeping ALS providers so we can service the community more often than we do right now," said Sachs.

On a staff of 30 volunteers, the organization has two ALS certified; the rest are basic life support, or BLS, trained. And that, H. Cary says, has Lynchburg's Fire Department worried.

"One of the concerns that I've heard from time to time is they really didn't feel like the Life Saving crew is pulling its weight; rarely did they have an advanced life support crew member on the calls," said Cary.

Retention is what this non-profit needs now. But, that's not easy when the young volunteers walk away from the life saving crew to actual paid positions at, you guessed it, the Fire Department. But, Sachs is thinking up solutions

"We are trying to develop a program where we can start providing scholarships to these volunteers," said Sachs.

Any idea to keep the most experience in the doors, before city council tries to shut out the lights.

"But if we're not getting value for the dollar that we're putting forth, then as we move forward in to the budget process, I think we need to look at that very carefully," said Cary.

City council asked for more information, like the number of calls it responds to and how many ALS are usually at those calls, before the budget session next Spring.