My husband, Bob Herzing, collapsed and died of a heart attack in August 2018. The loss of my husband has been devastating to me and my family and difficult to accept, but we continue to work through the grief. It was alarming to learn what happened within the 911 emergency system, after he collapsed, and how his life may have been spared. While coming to grips with the series of mishaps, I have learned these problems have occurred here before and also in many other rural areas.
My name is Sherry Herzing and I have dedicated myself to protecting others in rural communities from the risks that contributed to my husband’s death. I live at Lake Gaston, a beautiful rural community tucked away in Brunswick County, Virginia on the Virginia/North Carolina border. While living in this community is wonderful, we remain at great risk when health and other emergencies arise and there is a need for 911 emergency services. Other local counties sharing these problems are Mecklenburg in Virginia and Warren, Halifax and Northampton in North Carolina.
Challenges associated with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and 911 Operations have reached an epidemic level in rural communities across the country. We ask your support in helping address them.
Forty-Seven minutes!!! That’s how long it took EMT to arrive after Bob collapsed, too late to save him. There were a number of factors for this delay with the key reasons being:
As I learned of the challenges contributing to delays in my husband receiving timely 911 emergency services, I’ve identified ongoing and recurring issues adversely impacting EMS and 911 support and services to our rural communities:
Delays in 911 emergency service response impact the mortality rate of rural citizens. Mortality rates are further tested as rural area hospitals tend to be 25-30 miles away from incidents. In transforming my crisis and grief into positive action the LKG 911 Community Task Force was created. Currently, with 85 volunteers, we are dedicated “to educating the public and publicly elected officials in order to save lives and aid in improving 911 operations in the surrounding counties”. The program has gained traction and considerable interest from other rural areas. Below are some of the key initiatives of the program:
Our community is made up of retirees, veterans and multi-generational families who love rural living. The 911 service levels for rural areas should parallel those delivered to urban dwellers. We need your help in safeguarding rural citizens and seek an opportunity to meet with you to discuss the challenges. I look forward to discussing these issues and identifying solutions, as rural lives matter to both of us.
Sherry Herzing, CEO LKG 911 Community Task Force