DANSVILLE — It has been five decades and the Dansville Volunteer Ambulance is still going strong.
The 50th Anniversary will be celebrated on Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the base on 18 Ossian Street. There will be tours given of the base, equipment demonstrations, CPR demonstrations, and free blood pressure checkups. Livingston County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit will be doing demonstrations at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Dansville Fire Department and Noyes Health will be there as well. Refreshments will be offered to public.
The Birth of the Organization: The Dansville Fire Department decided to establish an ambulance squad in 1968. Prior to this the funeral directors handled the ambulance starting in the 1940s. After they informed the village they would no longer provide this service the Dansville Health Department took over operations in the early 1960s. Dansville Fire Department handled this for awhile until the formation of the new squad. The Dansville Volunteer Ambulance (DVA) held its first meeting on Oct. 20, 1968. The squad was about 60 men from the Dansville Fire Department’s four companies (Protectives, Union Hose, Jackson Hose and Hook and Ladder) and under leadership of Cpt. John Welch.
This tradition of men and women transitioning from the fire department to the ambulance has been carried on throughout the history of the organization.
Jerry Jackson, Dansville Ambulance former president sat down with Genesee Country Express to talk about the history, the programs, the equipment, and what has changed in the Dansville Volunteer Ambulance. Jackson started out in the Dansville Fire Department, but found his way to the DVA in 1989.
In the old days of the DVA they used a Ford station wagon from the health department. The first base was behind the Hook and Ladder (where the North Dansville Town Hall is now) and later it was moved to the Union Hose Truck House on Ossian Street. The truck was parked behind the Union Hose pumper, which made it hard on calls, because the truck had to be moved first.
In 1971 a more permanent solution was made at 15 Ossian Street. It was dedicated to John “Nipper” Welch. However, in 1979 it became very clear that there was a stronger need of volunteers in the organization. In the 1980s and early 1990s EMS grew out of its infancy along with the Dansville Ambulance.
Jackson said when he started three decades ago there was no ALS (Advanced Life Support) and everyone needed to be an EMT and Certified First Responder. There used to be a type of medical trousers that would inflate and compress the blood to keep the heart and lungs functioning. They also used bite sticks for when people suffered from seizures. However, the rules and procedures are forever changing with growing advancements in medical and new technology. For this reason the members of the ambulance need to recertify every three years as an EMT.
“The biggest change is that we now have ALS (Advanced Life Support) and this makes it so that our EMT’s can do a lot,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of help from Livingston County Sheriff’s Department and the Dansville Village Police Department when administering Narcan.”
This drug is used on overdose calls, which Jackson said are more and more frequent.
The EMT classes are getting more and more critical on advancements and protocols as time goes by. There have been several clinical changes in the five decades of Dansville Ambulance.
As far as the volunteers go there was a new form of managing time that was introduced by Dick Leven in 1968. It offered a scheduling system that is still used today. Nowadays three members on both shifts are used with no backup assigned.
“We have a great bunch of volunteers,” Jackson said. “This base we are at now is very nice, and a lot of thought went into it.”
The base at 18 Ossian Street is dedicated to the two women who made it possible with a generous donation of a quarter-of-a-million dollars from an estate. In October of 1995 the estate of Frances Woolever and Emma Evans left the Dansville Ambulance Company with a way to build a homebase.
In August 1996 the plan was made to build the base at 18 Ossian Street, which was just a field at the time. On Sept. 28, 1997 the organization broke ground, and by May 16, 1998 they had a ribbon cutting ceremony. This ushered in a new era for the renowned Dansville Ambulance Company.
Now the Dansville Ambulance Co. has two Basic Life Support ambulances, one support vehicle, one EMS Command Trailer, and one EMS Response John Deere Gator. There is training needed to use the Gator. Jackson said that is his favorite piece of equipment to use. The Gator and command trailer were purchased recently. The Gator is used mostly on hunter accidents or incidents where the person is thrown off the road.
The most calls in one month the ambulance has ever had is 145 calls. It is not unusual for the ambulance to go on multiple calls a day, especially in the summer months. The Dansville Ambulance goes on nearly 2,000 calls a year nowadays.
Perhaps the hardest part of being a volunteer at the Dansville Ambulance Co. are the bad calls that follow them home. Jackson said that there are still calls that haunt him in his 30 years of service.
“I started out in the fire department when I was 16, but I knew someone who worked in the ambulance. They came around to the fire department and looked for help,” Jackson said. “I decided I wanted to be in the ambulance. It has been 30 years, and I still love the ambulance.”
“It is nice to give back to the community,” Jackson continued. “Thirty-years is a great accomplishment.”
Jackson mentioned that all the organizations are in the same boat and in strong need of volunteers.