(Editor’s note: Mad River Valley Ambulance Service volunteers read this letter from service president Richard Lord to voters at Town Meeting this week.)

You’ll find a letter from Richard Lord, the president of the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service, in your Town Meeting annual report. I’m here to reinforce his message given the recent struggles faced by Vermont’s EMS providers. Two weeks ago, the Waterbury Ambulance Service, who is our backup provider, announced that it is coming to the Waterbury Town Meeting seeking $39,770 to cover projected financial shortfalls. This comes on the heels of news that two Northeast Kingdom volunteer agencies – Derby Line and Barton – were forced to close last summer.

EMS providers like MRVAS are suffering from both a shortage of volunteers and reduced reimbursement rates from government and private insurers that don’t cover the rising costs of EMS care.

Next year MRVAS – one of the few all-volunteer squads in the state – will celebrate its 50th anniversary serving The Valley. We’re doing our best to survive in this environment but need your help.

MRVAS receives no financial assistance from any of our four Valley towns, the state of Vermont or the federal government. Instead, we rely on a core of dedicated volunteers who last year gave more than 27,000 hours of their time responding to more than 500 emergency calls in The Valley. Replacing these volunteers with paid dispatchers, drivers and medical staff could cost our communities close to $1 million per year to replicate.

MRVAS also relies heavily on the generosity of donors large and small. Over the past 10 years, they gave MRVAS close to a half million dollars to help replace and upgrade $927,000 in capital equipment, including nearly $300,000 we spent in 2017 replacing our ambulance, Mad River 3.

We are not coming to Town Meeting today to ask for money. Instead, we need you to know that for us to continue our mission, we will need your help as both volunteers and donors. So, please spread the word to your neighbors, friends and visitors that MRVAS appreciates all your support, but will continue to need your help so we can be there for the next 50 years whenever you need us. Thank you.