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Lt. Bobby Rivenbark

For some of the crews at LifeCare, a Stafford-based ambulance company, the mission is more than 250 miles away. On Friday, April 9, LifeCare sent its second fleet of ambulances to New York City. 

It’s part of an American Medical Response deployment under a FEMA-requested contract to support the area hardest hit by the coronavirus — as of early April, roughly a third of the total deaths in the county were in New York City.

“When your country calls, you go,” said Matthew Hebert, a LifeCare crew member who has been sharing his experience in social media videos. 

The Germanna Community College graduate recently went back to nursing classes, but that’s on hold for this trip. He’s still learning — Hebert noted one 24-hour shift that ended with a two-hour rest before they were back on call.

LifeCare owner Kevin Dillard has deployed his crews to areas hit by hurricanes and other natural disasters, but the coronavirus is something else.

“This is the epicenter for what’s going on,” he said, noting all of the crews volunteered. “It’s a high-risk assignment.”

The community is showing its support. When the first crews left for New York City early April 1, Dillard said they were serenaded by tractor-trailer drivers blowing their horns in support as the caravan headed north in the dark of night. And they left with bagged lunches donated by local community groups.

And the ambulance teams still working in Virginia have been treated with meals from area organizations and handmade masks that give them a chance to save their more-protective N95 masks for emergency calls.

Dillard is proud of the crews in New York, as well as the crews back home who also face new risks with every call.

“We got in this line of work to help people,” he said.

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Johnna Chandler

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