The Banks District Volunteer Fire Department now has the capability to provide Basic Life Support -- or BLS -- medical transport services to residents in southern Upshur County.

Banks District Volunteer Fire Department offering emergency medical transport service starting Oct. 5

ROCK CAVE – A new emergency medical transport service is hitting the road in the southern end of Upshur County Monday.

The Banks District Volunteer Fire Department recently obtained its West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services state EMS licensure, Banks District fire chief John Roby said recently, and plans to begin offering an ambulance/medical transport service to southern Upshur County residents Oct. 5.

Roby, who’s served as the fire chief of the Rock Cave-area fire department for the last four-and-a-half years, wanted to clarify that Upshur EMS will remain the main 911 medical transport service in the county. As such, it will still serve as the agency that will be dispatched by the 911 Upshur County Communication Center in the case of emergencies.

Now, however, the Banks District Volunteer Fire Department has the capacity for BLS – or Basic Life Support – medical transports through its new ambulance service.

“Emergencies are going to go through Upshur EMS, but we will be able to take people to doctor’s appointments, to dialysis, and do a variety of interfacility transports,” Roby said. “There are so many doctor’s appointments people need to get to, and our goal is eventually to have first responders here 24 hours a day.”

The purpose of the Banks District’s new medical transport service is two-fold: to provide a much-needed service in the southern end of the county while assisting Upshur County EMS in times of need and to bring in additional income for a cash-strapped volunteer fire department, Roby said.

“It’s no secret that the pandemic has hurt all of us, volunteer fire departments included, because we’re not able to hold fundraising events like we normally would,” Roby said, “so we’re trying to think outside the box for a way to sublet some income.”

However, Roby said he wanted to emphasize the volunteer fire department is by no means a substitute for Upshur County EMS, which operates out of Buckhannon and covers the entire county.

“We are a fully-licensed EMS agency with 911 transport capability, but we never want to take anything away from Upshur EMS,” he said. “We never want to hurt that relationship.”

Roby, who has over 30 years of firefighting and EMS experience under his belt, said Bank District’s BLS VFD/EMS BLS transport capability could come in handy in cases where Upshur EMS might otherwise have to reach out to an out-of-county ambulance service.

“If they have an additional needs, instead of calling an out-of-county agency for transports, the could call us,” the fire chief said. “We’ll make ourselves available whenever needed. If Upshur EMS need our help or there was a delay and they requested us, then we would respond.”

Roby said the Rock Cave-area fire department purchased the emergency medical transport vehicle in July 2020 and the department plans to have “wheels on the ground” Monday, Oct. 5. The medical transport vehicle will bring Banks District’s fleet of vehicles up to six.

“At the end of the day, patient care is really the only thing that matters,” he said.

For more information, contact Roby by calling 304-997-5027.

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