In celebration of the Corps being founded 80 years ago, I thought this column might be appropriate.
The East Rochester Volunteer Ambulance Corps was the oldest continuously active independent fully volunteer ambulance Corps in the state of New York. The first vehicle was a 1931 Cadillac touring car purchased for $150. It was rebuilt as an ambulance for an additional $830.
On June 2, 1939, the first members, hand-picked by the fire council, began their five days a month for six months training. At 2:10 p.m., April 24, 1940, the squad recorded its first call. It was for a 5-month-old baby girl who had stopped breathing. Using an oxygen powered resuscitator, the baby was revived.
In 1948 the Village Board of East Rochester notified the first aid squad it was unable to continue to insure the squad vehicle. A successful door-to-door fundraising campaign with the goal of $3 per household allowed the first aid squad to purchase a new ambulance. It was then that the Corps became an independent entity of the Fire Department.
The telephone operator was one of the most valuable people in town. When an ambulance or fire call came in, the operator began calling members. The first member to reach the fire hall would sound 222 on the fire horn to alert more members. Some local employers permitted their employees who were members of the first aid squad to leave work to respond to a call. The 1931 Cadillac Touring Car Ambulance was an open back vehicle. In the winter months the patients were covered with a blanket held in place by medics laying on top of the blanket on each side of the patient to keep it from being blown away and keeping the patient warm. In case of rain a canvas cover was also used.
The Corps was one of the first volunteer agencies to require all of its members to have a minimum level of American Red Cross advanced first aid training and one of the first organizations to issue portable radios to all of its members.
In 1977, the East Rochester Volunteer Ambulance Corps was the first volunteer agency in the county to become New York State certified. It continued to serve the village for many more years until being merged with a paid company to better serve the community.
It was the end of the all-volunteer part of the East Rochester Ambulance Corps but the start of a new era of village emergency services.