Bedford County Uses Citizens Academy to Recruit Volunteer EMTs - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Bedford County Uses Citizens Academy to Recruit Volunteer EMTs

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When it is an emergency involving your loved one, seconds matter in getting these folks on the road, which is a priority and concern for Bedford County Fire and Rescue Chief Deputy Janet Blankenship, as calls go up by the thousands each year.

"Less staff and an increase in call volume it is a concern for the citizens, and we want to make sure someone is getting there in an efficient manner," Blankenship says.

In 2009 more than 750 volunteers made up the EMS division. The number dropped to about 600 in 2012.  

Throughout the year, Bedford County hosts classes for their citizens academy to teach people things like CPR. Blankenship hopes to use the class for a different reason; to recruit EMTs. Krisha Dunford already has medical training and was one of 28 people signed up for the class.

"I didn't know Bedford County was doing anything, and the closest one I found was in Montgomery County, and they fill up quickly. This is the first one I found and got in," Dunford says.

Like any class, they are put to the test. Some may walk away having learned something new, others may walk back through the doors. Dunford plans to become a volunteer EMT.

"To give back to a community that has given so much to me it means a lot to me," Dunford says.

With one more class, Blankenship hopes to see these people again and put an end to a trend of a shrinking EMS division.

"I would take all I could get. I would love 100, but if we could get 20 or 30 that is a great increase," Blankenship says.