SMYTH COUNTY, Va. - A rescue squad in Southwest Virginia is asking for the community's support again after several legal battles.
Back in 2012, the former president of the board of directors for the Saltville Rescue Squad, Eddie Louthian, Sr., was found guilty on several healthcare fraud charges. The indictment claimed Louthian and the rescue squad conspired to fraudulently bill Medicare and an insurance company for non-emergency ambulance services for patients who were eligible for Medicare.
The rescue squad itself was found not guilty.
There are some new faces at the Saltville Rescue Squad, but members tell us they are going to continue the 55-year traditions and devotions to the people they serve. "They ought to give them a second chance and realize that it's different people running it," says Jeremy Hunt.
Jeremy Hunt lives in Saltville. He tells us despite the legal issues the squad has faced over the past few years, he trusts them. "If somebody's in a life-or-death situation, you've got to have somebody that can be there in a few minutes," he said.
William Garrison is the new captain at the Saltville Rescue Squad. He tells us the former president, who was found guilty on multiple Medicare fraud charges, is no longer with the squad and they are starting over. "What we say is what we do you can trust the Saltville Rescue Squad," he told us.
We checked and currently the Saltville Rescue Squad has 26 certified volunteers, auxiliary, and junior squad members. Now they are asking for the community to stand behind them. "We're going to serve the public just as we have. We just want them to believe and trust in us as our members do," adds Garrison.
We learned one way they plan to better serve the community is to continue non-emergency transports as well as emergency calls. "[We'll] transport patients for dialyses, medical treatments all over Southwest Virginia," says Garrison.
Garrison tells us with the money they make from the non-emergency transports, the squad plans to give back by providing programs for the community. "We can offer first aid and CPR courses, babysitting classes, help give back to other programs," he said.
Garrison says the squad as a whole is taking extra steps to make sure everyone is billed properly, which is something that puts community members like Jeremy Hunt at ease.
Garrison wants to invite all members of the community to come to their monthly meetings for input. They are held on the first Monday of each month at 6:00. The meetings are at the rescue squad building, which is located at: 126 Battleground Ave., Saltville, VA 24370.