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Supporting those who help in times of emergency

Anyone who has needed to call 911 to request help in a medical emergency will never forget every moment, every detail, of the event. Whether in one’s own home, or out on the road in a vehicle, or elsewhere, what leads up to that call is a series of steps that makes it clear an emergency is at hand. 

Then, the choice must be made to reach out for help rather than trying to manage it oneself. Difficult steps to take, as we all share the human quality of wanting to maintain control of our own destiny, even when all evidence points to the contrary.

For residents of Salisbury, since 1971 there has been an answer to such a call in the form of the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service. All the Northwest Corner towns have volunteers who answer those calls, and every one of them deserves monumental credit. 

They need to complete 175 hours of state-mandated training in order to serve as volunteer EMTs, then undergo regular testing as well as recertification every three years. Then, when on duty, they need to race out to emergencies whenever the call has gone out for help. How often? The volunteers in Salisbury, for instance, made 516 ambulance calls in 2016.

Such dedication can only be based in a real and admirable desire to help those who need it, as quickly as possible, when they need it. These volunteers help their neighbors daily, and those neighbors find great comfort in seeing familiar faces when they’ve had to make that panicky call. 

The reason Salisbury’s ambulance service is looking for some public attention right now, rather than their usual approach of behind-the-scenes efficiency that all volunteer EMTs generally espouse, is that the nonprofit organization is in need of a new ambulance. (See Patrick Sullivan’s story on this newspaper’s health page last week.) 

It is a constant challenge for any ambulance service to keep up with the needs of the community, serving in ways that will give the best chance for success in mitigating a medical emergency. But for a 100-percent volunteer service like Salisbury’s, money is always tight and answers to such needs are not simple.

The new ambulance will replace a rusted, 20-year-old vehicle that does not meet state standards for service and lacks necessary technological updates. 

The ambulance service’s board of directors has raised a portion of the $250,000 needed to purchase the new ambulance, and now has gone public to ask the community to pitch in with whatever amount they can afford. 

Help them reach their goal by sending any-size contribution to Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service, Inc., P.O. Box 582, Salisbury, CT  06068-0582, or by going to www.salisburyambulance.org. OK