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Virginia Beach Breaks Ground on New Digs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.-- Rescue personnel who work the city s Great Neck area will soon have new digs, putting them closer to the people they serve.

Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad and city leaders broke ground recently for a 15,000-square-foot building that will house Station 8 on Bayne Drive.

The $5 million project will be completed in 2008 and was designed by Folck, West & Savage Architects P.C.

The city extended an interest-free loan for a portion of the cost, and $300,000 was already raised through private donations and business contributions, said rescue volunteer Jay Leach , who chairs the building committee and volunteers for the squad.

The decision to build the new Great Neck station was based on the creature comfort needs for paramedics and rescue volunteers who will operate from the facility in 12-hour shifts. The new space may also have room for a police officer.

Forty percent of calls answered by the city s volunteer rescue squad in 2006 were by rescuers in the station at 17th Street and Arctic Avenue location.

The new station will be a strategic base, said Capt. David Whitely , and will serve the First Colonial corridor and Great Neck areas.

Leach and Whitely said the squad s existing space, in a fire station, is bursting with people.

With this (new) building, it will allow us to put two ambulances on the street in this area, he added.

Said Whitely, We ve had about 36,000 calls in the city per year, and 5,000 from this area alone. We re excited about this. It s been a long time in the works.

The location has 91 volunteers out of about 400 rescue volunteers serving the city.

In June, the squad won an International Rescue and Emergency Care Association competition after competing against about 35 teams from around the world.

We won for the third year in a row and were the only volunteer team, Whitely beamed . We won first place in advanced life support and the other two years we were first in basic life support. We got a standing ovation.

The rescue squad gets under a person s skin, he added, and new members are always welcome.

It becomes a part of your life, Whitely said. I m doing it for the people and for the people I work with.

Rescue squad volunteer opportunities and information: www.livesneedsaving.com. Donations: 437-4830.

Jan Gaillard, jangaillard007@yahoo.com

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