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After support from community, Pittsylvania County, rescue group looks to Franklin County to reach fundraising goal
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Cool Branch Rescue Department

After support from community, Pittsylvania County, rescue group looks to Franklin County to reach fundraising goal

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Cool Branch

More than $300,000 has been collected so far by the Penhook community toward funding paid EMT staff at Cool Branch Rescue Department. The money was raised through community donations, fundraisers as well as a match in donations from Pittsylvania County.

A community effort to fund paid EMT staff at Cool Branch Rescue Department has seen significant support in recent months through donations from local residents and from Pittsylvania County. The group is now asking for funding from Franklin County to help make the program sustainable long-term.

More than $300,000 has been collected so far by the Penhook community toward funding paid EMT staff at Cool Branch Rescue Department. The money was raised through community donations, fundraisers as well as a match in donations from Pittsylvania County.

So far, four paid EMT positions have already been staffed at the Cool Branch Rescue Department in recent months using the donations. Kim Cassada, a Penhook resident and vice president of the Cool Branch Rescue Department’s board of directors, said an additional $100,000 from Franklin County would allow additional part-time EMTs.

“I’ve got two more I could hire tomorrow if I had the funds,” Cassada said.

The community effort to fund paid EMT staff at the rescue department came after a Penhook resident died of a heart attack this past May. Volunteers at Cool Branch were out that day due to a scheduled doctor’s appointment and other volunteer departments were unable to arrive in time due to being on other calls for service.

Following the incident, several community meetings were held and the effort to fund paid EMT staff was started.

The community group is now just $100,000 away from reaching its goal of $400,000, which they are hoping to get from Franklin County. Once they hit the goal, Cassada said the program would be fully staffed and the majority of future funding would come from community donations and fundraisers.

While Cool Branch Fire and Rescue Departments are located just over the county line in Pittsylvania County, a large portion of their calls for service come from Franklin County. The Water’s Edge community in Franklin County is one of the largest communities served by the fire and rescue departments.

At Tuesday’s Franklin County Board of Supervisors meeting, several members spoke in favor of providing $100,000 for the program. Union Hall District representative Tommy Cundiff said he was fully in support of the funding.

“This community is not asking for a handout, they are just asking for help,” Cundiff said.

Supervisors agreed Tuesday to postpone a vote on the $100,000 until a work session can be held next month to discuss how the county will pay for it. Cundiff expressed disappointment that a vote would not be held.

“I wish I could give them the money tonight. I really do,” Cundiff said.

Blackwater District representative Ronald Mitchell also expressed support for the funding request. He wondered how the community had been so successful at hiring paid EMTs when other localities in the county are unable to find staff.

“We’re struggling to staff the trucks we have,” Mitchell said.

Following the meeting, Cassada said she was “hesitantly optimistic” that supervisors would approve the $100,000 funding. A vote could be held as early as Dec. 1 when supervisors are expected to hold the first of a two day work session.

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