By Matt de Simone
The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors accepted achievement awards from the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo), that award counties that adopt innovative approaches providing public services and identifying programs that serve as models for other counties to emulate.
This is Botetourt’s eighth achievement award after previously winning awards in 2003, 2004, 2010, 2015, 2019, and twice in 2020.
VACo has announced the 29 recipients of the 2022 Achievement Awards, which recognizes excellence in local government programs. VACO received 100 submissions from governmental organizations throughout the Commonwealth. Jeremy Bennett, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for VACO, presented the award to Botetourt Fire & EMS Chief Jason Ferguson.
“It’s not the typical EMS model to be public health agents but during times of crisis, I hope the community knows that their emergency services—whether law, fire, or EMS—we’re all here to step up to the challenge and find a creative way to address that problem and if it’s within our means to do so, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Ferguson said during the award acceptance.
During the pandemic, the department launched the “Boost Botetourt” Campaign which brought COVID-19 vaccines to the homes of those most vulnerable. Botetourt Fire & EMS is one of the most community-minded departments in Virginia and is focused on providing top notch pre-hospital care and they continue to evolve as one of the leading departments in the region.
The supervisors shared their appreciation for everything that Botetourt emergency workers did for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic in finding creative way to administer vaccines to those individuals who needed it the most.
Ferguson thanked participants in the campaign including Dr. Beth Leffel, who helped with the vaccine program and worked with the Virginia Department of Health, part-time paramedic Kyle Sperber, Emergency Manager Daniel Murray, and Fire & EMS Title: Recruitment & Retention Specialist Taylor Lunsford.
Botetourt Fire & EMS was nominated for the VACo award because of their recent accomplishment of being recognized as the 2021 EMS Agency of the Year by the Governor’s Office and for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic, over 500 Botetourt County residents received vaccinations (over 1,000 shots) from this campaign. The average age of residents who received vaccinations was around 75, with the eldest resident to receive a vaccine being 103 years old.
The VACo Achievement Awards is a competitive program open to local government members of the association. Held annually, it recognizes local government programs in awards criteria that include innovation, cooperation and model practices.