NORTH SALEM, N.Y. — The North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps (NSVAC) answers approximately 450 calls a year. Do you know how many volunteers are involved?
On Sept. 27, NSVAC Capt. Maria Hlushko and President Kurt Guldan told the Town Board there are currently 10 active volunteers.
They explained that if the corps had 56 members — around 1 percent of the town's population — each volunteer would be on call for only six hours a week.
Every shift requires two people: an ambulance driver and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
As things stand now, the 10 unpaid NSVAC members have to be available to cover every day of the week. And they all have regular jobs, too.
"Today, I was with Kurt (Guldan) when a call came in and he sent his own employees out to cover it," said Supervisor Warren Lucas. "So, Kurt is actually paying their wages while they're out on ambulance calls for the town."
Guldan owns Salem Landscaping and many of his employees are trained to respond to medical calls.
The NSVAC was asking for a disbursement of about $14,500 from their $75,000 per diem staff budget to contract with Westchester Emergency Medical Services (WEMS) for part-time professional help.
The professionals would be on call from 7 p.m. on Saturdays to 7 p.m. on Sundays, once a week from Nov. 1 - Jan. 1.
"It's just to give our volunteers Saturday night and Sunday to be with their families," Hlushko said. "If we want to save the town $75,000 next year, coming up with some new volunteers would help."
Councilwoman Lisa Douglas said she was uncertain about whether the people of the town were aware of the problem.
"When you're in an emergency and you know the people who’ve come, it's a great comfort," she said. "I'm saddened that we don't have more people living here who want to do this."
EMT training is tuition-free. The next course runs from January to May and prepares trainees for the state exam.
Those who are interested must be 18 or over. To become an ambulance driver, you must be 21 or older and have a clean driving record.
Like the EMT course, the driver training course is free of charge.
For more information call 914-277-4944 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.