Rumors spread like wildfire this week over Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad’s alleged refusal to respond to a call during Sunday’s snow storm. But rescue squad president Judy Buis said the rumors are false and are apparently based on a misstatement she made over the radio.
Buis, speaking Tuesday on a conference call that included MVRS board chairman Ron Lambert, said she was at home when a call came in at 1:07 p.m. Sunday that there was a motor vehicle accident on Windsor Road near the Gloucester-Mathews county line.
She called a neighbor who has a four-wheel-drive truck to ask for a ride to the squad building and was preparing to leave when a Gloucester volunteer firefighter came on the radio and said the driver of the vehicle was alert and oriented, was walking around and seemed to be okay.
Squad leaders had earlier decided to enact the squad’s inclement weather policy during the snow storm, which states that during dangerous weather conditions crews won’t respond to accidents in which there are no injuries. The policy also gives squad personnel the leeway to triage basic life support (BLS) calls by talking with the patient, weighing the severity of the patient’s condition against the hazard of transporting him/her during dangerous weather conditions, and deciding whether or not to transport. The squad responds to advanced life support calls regardless of hazardous conditions.
Upon hearing that the driver was all right, Buis and another volunteer who was preparing to respond to the call "stood down" and thought that was the end of the matter.
However, several minutes later, the Gloucester volunteer—Captain 605—called back and reported that the driver had changed his mind about going to the hospital. This was when Buis said she misspoke.
"I said that because of the inclement weather, we’re not answering BLS calls," said Buis. What she meant to say was that the squad was not responding to accidents with no injuries, and she asked Captain 605 for the extent of the patient’s injuries.
The captain’s response changed the whole picture, said Buis. He said that the victim didn’t remember what happened in the accident and might have lost consciousness. This elevated the call to advanced life support and meant that immediate response was necessary.
"At that point, there was no question," said Buis. "It was just ‘who can get there faster.’"