Deerfield fire, EMS response, revive questions on coverage in rural Augusta County
Questions are being raised among community members about the EMS response to a house fire in Deerfield that took the life of an Arlington woman in the area visiting family, and has another individual fighting for his life in MCV.
The questions involve response time to the fire in rural West Augusta, and from a wider perspective, fire and EMS staffing in the western part of the county.
As a reader who brought the issue to our attention pointed out in an email, the citizens of western Augusta County pay taxes, too, but as a native of that part of the county, with lots of friends and family who still live there, I know personally that you can feel like a second-class citizen when you live out that way.
I then grew up in the Crimora area, on the other side of the county, and can speak in detail about two incidents in which I had to call 911 for police dispatch – one involving shots fired at a home, the other involving suspicious activity at a convenience store that I was working at in college – in which it took more than an hour in each instance to get a deputy on scene.
So much of the attention in terms of county resources is placed around the population centers surrounding the two independent cities, and we can understand that resources are not infinite, and that there are unique challenges in Augusta County given the sheer geographic size.
Details of what transpired over the weekend with the Deerfield fire are still trickling out. The Virginia State Police is still investigating the circumstances of the fire, so officials are being tight-lipped on the issue of the fire and EMS response, using the ongoing investigation as cover.
This can’t get swept under the rug. Residents in rural areas in Augusta County deserve the same level of coverage from fire, EMS and the sheriff’s office as those in the population centers.
Story by Chris Graham