Virginia: Pulaski County Looks to Improve, Strengthen its Emergency Services

Pulaski County, population of roughly 34,000 people, is looking to enhance and provide assistance to its emergency services organizations. If you’re not familiar, this community is located along Interstate 81 in southwest Virginia, and is home to Claytor Lake and the Volvo Trucks manufacturing plant.

The contract for Change Agent services is a two (2) year partnership and will provide direct engagement with all paid and volunteer departments serving Pulaski County. The high-level deliverable is for the development and implementation of a strategic plan that will serve to strengthen, support and affordably sustain the paid and volunteer emergency response services, as well as implement safety, efficiency and support measures to ensure the highest level of response can be provided.

– Press release via Gannon Emergency Solutions USA/Pulaski County

The firm hired to provide “support and collaborative assistance” previously wrote a comprehensive, extremely detailed review of the county’s emergency services. They made a number of recommendations, among them:

  • Appoint a Director of Emergency Services
  • Fire, EMS, and emergency management should be under this newly created position and department
  • Freeze the purchase of apparatus for three years
  • Staff three ambulances at all times, and consider a fourth for peak call times

The report is extremely comprehensive, totaling 114 pages of significant analysis, recommendations, and insights. If you’re a local leader, I highly recommend giving it a read. This blog post only touches on the major observations from the report.

In interviews with fire chiefs around Pulaski County, virtually all of them cited volunteer recruitment and retention as their top concern. In one example, the chief of a fire department near Interstate 81 often worked scenes without any other members.

Pulaski County also implemented a new, trunked Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) system in 2023 for use by law enforcement, fire, and EMS.