Volunteer shortage increases cost of Ludlow Ambulance

ambulance
Ludlow Ambulance Service looks for solutions to the shortage of local volunteers. Photo provided.

LUDLOW, Vt. – During the annual Ludlow Town Meeting, residents were able to discuss topics of interest for the 2018 fiscal year. One of which, was the added subsidy of $53,000 that was being requested by the Ludlow Ambulance Service. Although it was approved, many residents are still unsure as to why the cost was added to the budget. Just like other organizations in the surrounding area, there is a shortage of volunteers.

Over the years, Ludlow Ambulance Service has had to hire more paid staff members to compensate for the decline in volunteers. “We especially struggle to find volunteers for weekday jobs because people have full-time jobs and other responsibilities,” Carl Matteson explained.

Last year they had roughly 800 calls, and Matteson added that volunteering is a time commitment. “An average call is about two hours long, and we have some volunteers that respond to 300-400 of those a year, and it adds up quickly.”

In response, Ludlow Ambulance Service has had to replace volunteers with part-time and full-time work, so that they can have enough people to respond to the calls. During the last fiscal year, they had to use their capital replacement fund for payroll. Outside of Ludlow, they service the towns of Cavendish and Plymouth, both of which have already been paying subsidies for their services. “For a few years, we got an emergency response grant from AmeriCorps that allowed us to hire paid interns, but it went away,” Matteson continued.

In addition to the shortage of volunteers, Matteson believes that they will see an increase in call volume in the coming years. “Statistically, as people get older, they develop more medical problems, and we’re starting to see the beginning of the Baby Boomer generation,” he explained.

Meanwhile, during the Cavendish Select Board meeting on March 12, they reacted to the increased cost by researching the possibility of using Golden Cross Ambulance service. Although it would be roughly 75 percent cheaper, it would require a bay to park ambulances. The proposal wasn’t mentioned during the April 9 Select Board meeting.

In the meantime, Ludlow Ambulance Service is actively looking for volunteers or part-time staff so that they continue to serve the surrounding area. Anyone who is interested in learning more information about volunteering or applying to the Ludlow Ambulance Service can visit their Facebook page or their office at the Ludlow Police station.

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