Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad to end service to upper Northwest DC by year’s end

The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad (BCCRS) in Montgomery County, Maryland, will be ending its ambulance service to upper Northwest D.C. by the end of this year.

The decision was made after reviewing response data from BCCRS and determining that the dedicated emergency service wouldn’t be needed because of an increase in fire stations with paramedic services in D.C. and Montgomery County.

BCCRS ambulances pass one or more paramedic-equipped fire stations operated by DC Fire and EMS and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services while responding to calls, according to a release from the rescue squad. Because of this, BCCRS said it is confident there will be no drop-off in emergency preparedness for the upper Northwest part of the District.

“As someone who was raised in the District and has more than four decades of service with the Rescue Squad, I have always been proud of our service to these communities,” BCCRS Chief Edward “Ned” Sherburne said in the release. “But the evidence made it clear that this is what is best for individuals who need emergency care and for the entire community.”

Additionally, the number of calls from D.C. residents to the BCCRS emergency line has decreased from more than 1,400 two decades ago to just 381 in 2020.

More sophisticated emergency communications from D.C. has made the District able to respond to calls and dispatch help in a way that BCCRS cannot match.

“The rapid technological evolution of the last few decades has made it financially and operationally impossible for us to maintain an emergency phone line that can provide the same level of service as a modern emergency communications center like those operated by the District and by Montgomery County,” Sherburne said.

The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad will continue to respond to the District for emergency incidents and special events when dispatched by Montgomery County, but only after being requested by D.C. through existing mutual aid agreements.

Founded in 1937, BCCRS has served neighborhoods in upper Northwest  D.C. as well as Bethesda and Chevy Chase in Maryland, and their surrounding communities.

The service will officially end its ambulance and emergency telephone line by the end of the day on Dec. 31.

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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