June 10, 2008
Greece ambulance corps volunteers use latest techniques and equipment
GREECE — Outside the Greece Volunteer Ambulance headquarters on Long Pond Road, a sign notes that ambulance service is "one of the last few professions that makes house calls."
Indeed, emergency medical technicians and paramedics from GVA made 4,200 house calls last year. In white shirts and blue slacks, the medical professionals treated injuries both mundane and major, from bumps and bruises suffered in falls to strokes and other dire emergencies.
from cardiac arrest to a toothache," said Mike Shannon, a volunteer for
13 years and director of operations for the past three years.
Chartered in 1958 with one vehicle, Greece Volunteer Ambulance transported its first patient in 1959. At one time, the corps had 167 volunteers, both medics and paramedics. Now there are 75 active volunteer members, 12 full-time employees and 22 part-timers providing 24-hour emergency service seven days a week.
The fleet has expanded to five ambulances and two advanced life-support vehicles to provide service to residents living in the North Greece and Lakeshore fire districts.
The group does not levy taxes,
and is entirely supported through third-party billing of insurance companies and co-pays.
Now, training requirements range from more than 100 hours required to become a basic EMT to more than 1,200 hours of training required to become a paramedic.
"Emergency medical services are really maturing
because the technology is changing," Joyce said.
there are specialized ambulance rigs outfitted with medications,
defibrillators, EKG monitors, trauma supplies and much more.
For Joyce, the best part of the job is meeting people,
talking with people and helping people.
"But I tell all the guys to treat each patient on their stretcher just like they're somebody in your family that you love," he said. Medical emergencies are scary and patients are often frightened, confused and in pain. A good EMT or paramedic not only dispenses medical care, but also compassion. "You need to get right down and talk to people. We've actually laid down in the street next to a kid hit by a car. It's less scary if you get to their level."
Greece Volunteer Ambulance is always seeking more volunteers.
Joyce said while the work is tough, the rewards are great.