Wintergreen Fire and Rescue

Wes Sparks check on oxygen tanks at Wintergreen Fire and Rescue on Dec. 11, 2018. 

As challenges change, Wintergreen Fire and Rescue has adopted a new five-year strategic plan to help the organization grow and ensure its future success.

Curtis Sheets, chief of Wintergreen Fire and Rescue, said the organization met all its goals in its previous strategic plan and he felt it was time to set new goals to work toward. Sheets said a notable change in the strategic plan is recognizing the rescue squad isn’t just responding to medical emergencies and the fire department is no longer responding solely to fires in the area.

“In the plan, we actually do recognize that the types of emergencies we respond to have changed over the past several years due to environmental factors,” Sheets said.

Sheets said the departments have been responding to an increased number of different storms including tornadoes and hurricanes, which come with high winds, causing downed trees and flooding. In the winter, heavy ice also causes problems.

“We didn’t deal with these a decade ago. We’re re-upping our overall readiness for a number of events,” Sheets said.

Houston Sorenson, a Nelson County resident and former president of the board of directors for the rescue squad, helped pull this five-year plan together. Sorenson said some of the plan includes improving on things already done and some includes looking into the future and preparing as best as possible.

On the topic of climate change and environmental changes shaping future plans of action for Wintergreen Fire and Rescue, Sorenson said he believes there might be different challenges to face five years down the road.

“I think the key thing is we in the Wintergreen Fire and Rescue organization are trying to be proactive and looking at the future,” Sorenson said. “No one can predict the future, but we’re looking at different possibilities and proactively planning on how to deal with them.”

The five-year strategic plan, released in mid-October, is broken down into three focus areas: service delivery, resources and funding, and people. Within those areas, initiatives, action strategies, and implementation plans have been mapped out in order to follow through and meet initiatives.

Initiatives include making sure the public is updated and informed with the best fire and rescue programs, continuing to establish good working relationships with other fire and rescue organizations, providing progressive emergency medical service delivery, and exploring the option of “Mobile Integrated Healthcare — Community Paramedicine” — which is “the provision of health care using patient-centered, mobile resources in the out-of-hospital environment,” according to the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Sorenson said five or six work sessions were held before officially publishing the new five-year strategic plan. The work sessions included Sorenson, Sheets, assistant chiefs, career lieutenants and at times different volunteer members. Sorenson said it’s important to have such plans in place so the organization can be prepared moving forward.

“It gives us direction the organization wants to, and must go, in in the future,” Sorenson said.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

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