Lyndon Rescue Rep Reports Fewer 911 Calls During Pandemic

Lyndon Rescue Inc.'s ambulance has a memorial for former Sutton representative to the LRI Board, the late Ben McCormack, a physical therapist who died last year, and is remembered with gratitude for his service to the community for about a decade. LRI President Delbert Reed said, "Ben was a member of our board of directors for many years including serving as the treasurer. He had a great business sense and his experience running his own business made him an invaluable member of our board." (Courtesy Photo)

LYNDONVILLE — 911 calls are down at Lyndon Rescue Inc. but transfers are up, and emergency calls are expected to begin increasing now that the pandemic is easing, reported Sara Cousino, the town’s representative to the nonprofit.

Board Chairman Chris Thompson asked why during the pandemic there were fewer 911 calls and Cousino said, “the fear factor was so great, they just weren’t calling unless they absolutely had to.”

Too, many community events that would have generally seen calls for ambulance response come in from biking to other events were not happening like in a typical year, so calls for the rescue service fell off.

Cousino said the executive director of the rescue group has been paying down debts and is not using credit as much as in the past to balance the books. “We’ve paid off ambulance number 94, the goal is to have by the end of this year to have both cardiac monitors paid off.”

She said other debt is going to be paid down in the next three years.

“To do that, the board voted to set aside and earmark some funds … to go towards larger expenses as well as the potential of a new building, whether it’s the building we’re in and fixing it up or a new location,” she said.

Cousino praised the rescue company’s director, Jillian McLaughlin, for her work getting Lyndon Rescue on a stable financial path.

She said the organization has been checking in with staff to make sure they are not “getting COVID weary,” and she said staff are getting the “help they need to make sure they stay healthy, as well,” and there have been some tough calls.

“It’s nice to hear that you’re focusing on the staff’s mental health, it is absolutely essential for our first-line responders, so it’s absolutely wonderful to hear that you’re doing that,” said Select Board member Nancy Blankenship.

Thompson told Cousino he was pleased to hear the organization is working to set aside funds for larger purchases down the road including ambulance replacements and hoped-for building upgrades or a move to a new building, a plan that has been in the works for some time.

Selectmen on Monday evening were expecting an update from service organization organizations, including Lyndon Rescue.

Cousino said Northern Vermont University, which is selling off unused real estate, has approached Lyndon Rescue so they are prepared in the event the site and building leased on the campus is ultimately put on the market. She said a subcommittee has been put together to see what the repairs would need to be on the building and options related to building, “so if that time comes we know what the options are and we can put in a bid and make informed decisions.”

She said if the town does ever get a gift of land, “if you could just keep us in mind, it’s something that might work for us and we’d to have the opportunity to have it gifted to the rescue squad so we can build … as long as it’s not in a floodplain and would have emergency egress and things like that.”

“We’d certainly be willing to do that,” said Thompson.

Two candidates seeking an appointment to the town’s Development Review Board attended the Lyndon Select Board meeting via Zoom on Monday evening.

The candidates were interviewed during an executive session early in the meeting to consider the appointment of the public positions.

Candidates appointed were Amy Rast to a 2-year seat on the board to fulfill an unexpired term on the board and Jeremiah Aiken to serve as the alternate on the DRB, the motion passed unanimously.

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