History of the Fleetwood Volunteer Fire Company Ambulance
In December 1951, then Fire Chief Lester “Legger” Moyer, seeing the need for a community ambulance service, presented a proposal to the Fleetwood Fire Company to raise money for an ambulance. The proposal was approved, hence the birth of the Fleetwood Volunteer Fire Company Ambulance. By March 1952, they had received $956.00 in donations. A letter to inform the community of the fund drive to purchase an ambulance was sent in April. The truck crew held a benefit movie in May to help raise funds. In June, Mr. Elmer Rhodes turned his Gulf Service Station over to the truck crew for a day, with the proceeds to be used for the purchase of an ambulance. By July almost $5,000 had been raised. They chose a Buick Flexible Ambulance at a cost of $7,600.00. It was delivered in August and dedicated by rev. J. Paul Kehm on August 23, 1952.
The crew’s first big job came when the Honorable Judge Robert Mayes asked them to help transfer patients from the county home to Berks Heim. In September 1952, the ambulance went on twenty four hour on-call status. By November there had been three ambulance calls. It has been onward and upward from there.
In order to maintain this enthusiasm and to serve our community better, we have to keep our equipment and training up to date. The Eastern Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Services Council helped to fund needed equipment. In 1978 the crew also wanted to achieve voluntary state certification by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In order to attain this certification, we had to meet the criteria set forth by the Department of Health in regard to equipment and training of personnel. With certification as our goal, in September 1978 we bought a Ford/Horton box style ambulance, which meets the state guidelines. The residents of Fleetwood, the Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Services, and the borough made this purchase possible. Through their combined efforts, we received a $10,000.00 state grant toward the $31,800.00 cost of the new ambulance.
In 1992, seeing an increase calls, a 1992 International/Horton Ambulance was purchased. This unit increased our Ambulance fleet to two. Since then the second unit has been staffed as needed. This additional unit has made it possible to handle the numerous standby requests for sporting events by the Fleetwood School District, provide EMS coverage for the Reading Rage Soccer Club in 1996 & 1997, the First Union Betsy King Classic (a sanctioned LPGA event), which became the Wachovia LPGA Classic in 2004, two Presidential standbys, cycling events and other standby requests, while still providing round the clock protection to our residents. In addition, we were called upon by the Eastern PA EMS Council to assist, if needed, with a task force from our region to provide ambulance services to our wounded troops returning from the Middle East in the first Gulf War and in the most recent conflict as well as during the September 11th catastrophe. Thankfully though, this task force was not needed.
Presently, we have thirty-eight members on the ambulance crew (also part of the truck crew). There are two paramedics, twenty-nine Emergency Medical Technicians, seven of which are paid staff and the rest have completed the First Responder program, and all the members of the truck crew and ambulance are CPR and AED certified.
When we began in that November of 1952, we had three ambulance calls and fifteen first-aiders. This past year we responded to 856 ambulance calls and have thirty-eight state certified personnel. In 1952 we had a Buick ambulance equipped with an E&J resuscitator, bandages, and some board splints. Today we have two state licensed ambulances with onboard oxygen unit, portable and permanent suctioning units, a portable CPR bag, a well-equipped trauma kit, modern splinting devices, three AED’s and the latest equipment for monitoring vital signs. In 1952, with the limited training that was available at that time, we were just movers of the sick and injured. Today we are capable of supporting life and preventing further injury until we can transfer a patient to medical facilities. As you can see, we have come a long way in fifty-two years. We could not have done it without community support. We wish to thank the Fleetwood Borough Council, the Supervisors of Richmond and Ruscombmanor Townships, the residents of the Fleetwood area and the business community for their continuing support. All of these people enable us to continue to provide state of the art ambulance service in our area.