When an emergency strikes, response time can be critical. Members of the Middle Village Volunteer Ambulance Corps know this better than anyone else. They are the ones who have been responding to community emergencies for more than 28 years, but now they need your help.
The VAC handles emergencies with a non-salaried, volunteer staff. They are men and women from the community, dedicated to helping those in need.
The VAC services Middle Village and Maspeth.
“If you could save someone’s life, would you?” asks Thomas Testa, president of the VAC. “Of course you would. You can help save a life by making a donation to the ambulance service.”
The annual fund drive is now underway, Testa notes. The VAC is conducted through the mail. Each home in Middle Village and Maspeth will receive a packet from the corps urging them to continue this valuable service through the generosity of their donations.
The money will be used for insurance coverage, which Testa notes “is very expensive,” medical equipment to meet state standards, gasoline to power the ambulances and other routine expenses.
Because the VAC is a state certified ambulance service, it is required by law to carry specific emergency equipment in its vehicles.
It is also required to have at least two highly trained Emergency Medical Technicians on each of its crews.
EMT’s are licensed by the state of New York after the successful completion of standardized classroom training, practical on-the-job training and emergency room time.
EMT’s are then required to renew their licenses every two years.
The free VAC offers services comparable to that of the Fire Department/EMS, explained Joe Magnus, an EMT and founder of the VAC.
“Many residents don’t realize that a ride to a city hospital via a city ambulance is not free as commonly believed. It costs about $300,” Testa said. The Middle Village Volunteer Ambulance Corps does not charge for the delivery of the same service.
The Middle Village VAC, unlike other volunteer services, doesn’t do third party billing to cover its costs. It depends solely on the generous support of the community to provide its service.
The VAC feels so strongly about maintaining a free service that they withdrew from a joint service, called the West Queens Mutual Aid Back-up System, because the other VACs in the group would bill their patients or their medical insurers for the transportation they provided.
“We do not approve of the volunteer ambulance corps charging our residents for service when they are substituting for unavailable Middle Village VAC service,” Magnus explained.
Besides responding to emergency situations, the VAC also provides non-emergency transportation to the hospital of the patient or family’s choice. The VAC will also transport patients back to their homes after a hospital stay or incident.
The VAC also provides blood pressure tests and free loan-out service of hospital equipment such as canes, walkers, crutches, and commodes.
They also instruct in cardio-pulmonary techniques which is a life-saving method when someone suffers from cardiac arrest or choking.
“The VAC tries to provide the best emergency help for the neighborhoods and compassionate care for all they serve. Also they try to show deep respect for the dignity of each person,” Testa said.
“I wish to thank the kind-hearted members of our community who make it possible for the VAC to be there when needed,” he said.