Vols working to breathe life back into RVES


By Jim Poole

On life-support just a few weeks ago, the Richmondville Volunteer Emergency Squad is on the mend.
Members last week voted to rescind their decision to close the squad and instead are re-dedicated to serving Richmondville.
"We can't let it happen and leave the people of Richmondville in the lurch," said RVES President Scott Bennett.
Strapped for money and in need of new volunteers, members voted in September to shut down. Town and county officials were considering alternatives, including having the Cobleskill Rescue Squad cover Richmondville or else giving the RVES charter to the town so that it could form a new squad.
But RVES members did an about-face, deciding that maintaining their squad was best, Mr. Bennett said.
They cancelled a barrel fund drive earlier this year because they didn't want to take public money if the squad was in danger of closing.
With renewed energy, however, members held their barrel drive this past weekend, raising about $3,500.
"We got really good comments from people," Mr. Bennett said. "They asked, 'Are you staying?' and we answered, 'Yep, we're staying.' "
Taking part in the barrel drive was Richmondville town Supervisor Dick Lape, who returned early from a Maine vacation to help raise funds.
Like squad members, Mr. Lape believes having RVES stay in service is the best route.
But he also believes the squad must make a determined effort to recruit new members. Because of low membership, RVES has missed calls and therefore lost payments for services.
Mr. Bennett agreed and said the squad will go door to door in the next couple of weeks to recruit new members and raise funds.
"We're going to try to build up the squad and make this thing work," Mr. Bennett said.
He's also seeking state and federal funds to keep the squad operating.
The all-volunteer RVES gets money only from donations and insurance payments from patients it serves. Although the squad receives no local tax money, Mr. Lape recently said the town could provide $12,800 in 2017.
Trying to raise money to continue this year, Mr. Bennett said changes in insurance deductibles could make RVES income more difficult in 2017.
"It's not a pretty picture," he said, "but this is too valuable to let it drop. We'll see what we can do together."
Anyone wishing to donate can send a check to RVES, PO Box 11, Richmondville, 12149.
Anyone wanting more information about volunteering can call the squad at 294-8888.