KINGWOOD, W.Va. – Delegate Terri Sypolt (R-Preston) is continuing to urge Governor Justice to include additional funding for local volunteer fire departments and volunteer emergency medical services personnel when distributing federal CARES Act funds.
This is according to a press release issued by Sypolt recently, which stated that Senators Randy Smith (R-Tucker) and Dave Sypolt (R-Preston) have also separately sent a letter to Gov. Justice making the same request. Sypolt said these local fire and EMS personnel, especially volunteers, need the money because a lot of their budget is from fundraising, something they cannot do properly right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I know a lot of the smaller EMS and fire departments depend so much on community support and with the community support they do a lot of their fundraisers during the local fairs and festivals. And of course, without the fairs and festivals, they don’t have that community activity to be able to have the fundraisers. Without that they still have the overhead with their electric, their insurance, their truck payments and I know that a lot of them are hurting, especially with our volunteers.Delegate Terri Sypolt (R-Preston)
In Preston County, where many of the fire departments are voluntary, Sypolt said, there have been many online efforts at fundraising, but it has not been as effective as in-person efforts in previous years.
Sypolt said local first responders are vital in their communities, especially rural ones like Preston County, where it can take up to an hour to get from one part of the county to another. Plus, she said COVID-19 has added a new problem, which occurs when ambulatory services drive long distances only for a patient to refuse treatment because they are afraid of contracting COVID in hospitals or clinics.
They put the time, the effort and the funds to get to the call, but then there’s no reimbursement because they did not transport anyone, Sypolt said.
“These are people that volunteer, they put their lives on the line, day in and day out with the drug problems that we have in our state and in our rural areas,” Sypolt said. “Right now we need them more than ever, we need to support them more than ever and I think now is the time with this CARES money that the governor needs to step up and fund them with some of the money that is coming in. And whether it’s done by need, whether they apply for a certain amount according to what they particularly need, what they have spent, or if it’s just so much across the board to each organization. I am not sure how that needs to be handled, maybe it needs to be looked into a little deeper. But I do know they need some backing and funding and this is the time we need to step up and support them.”