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Ogdensburg Rescue Squad responded to record high number of calls in 2012

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As it prepares to move into a new headquarters in another two months, the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad looks back on 2012 as a year of a record high number of calls and an encouraging increase in its roster.

In the squad’s annual report for 2012, Director of Operations Kenneth J. Gardner said it was a busy year.

“The squad responded to a total of 2,630 calls for service,” he said. “The squad saw its largest amount of calls in its 52-year history.”

By contrast during 2011, the squad answered 2,462 calls.

“This is quite a jump,” Mr. Gardner said Tuesday.

The calls resulted in 2,500 actual patient care reports and were broken down geographically as follows: 1,758 in the city of Ogdensburg; 318 calls in the town of Oswegatchie; 117 calls in the town of Lisbon; 96 calls in the village of Heuvelton; 67 calls in the town of Morristown; 50 calls in the town of Waddington; 41 calls in the town of Hammond; and 26 calls in the town of DePeyster.

The squad, located at 101 State St., also took calls in the towns of Macomb, Russell, Hermon, Gouverneur, DeKalb, Madrid, Massena and Rossie and the village of Rensselaer Falls, and made itself available for 35 hospital-to-hospital transfers for critically ill patients.

Response time to calls, according to Mr. Gardner, was and is impressive.

“On average, the squad was en route to a call within 2.4 minutes and arrived on scene in less than 3.49 minutes of dispatch in the city of Ogdensburg,” he said. “When you include all surrounding areas we service, our on-scene time is an amazing 4.39 minutes.”

The squad also has a rescue team for water-related calls in cooperation with the St. Lawrence County Underwater Recovery Team. In addition, the squad has a rescue/vehicle extrication team.

The squad’s volunteer roster is a pleasant contradiction to other volunteer squads whose existence is threatened by declining memberships.

“Our current roster includes 55 volunteers, an amazing increase of eight new members over the past two years,” Mr. Gardner said. “At a time when the majority of emergency medical services agencies around New York continue to drop in volunteer members, the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad continues to grow and thrive.”

The squad’s volunteers, Mr. Gardner said, donated more than 20,446 hours of service in 2012. Their experience in years is: four volunteers with 30 years of service; four with more than 25 years; five with over 20 years; one with 15 to 19 years; two with 10 to 14 years; nine with five to nine years;

and 30 with fewer than five years.

“You can never have enough volunteers,” Mr. Gardner said Tuesday.

Mr. Gardner said the ongoing $1.6 million renovation of the squad-owned former Hackett Hardware building at 1223 Pickering St. for its new headquarters is still on schedule for completion in two months.

“All renovations are scheduled to be completed by March 15,” he said. “The squad will move into its new facility at that time.”

Other 2012 squad highlights include:

n The squad paid for members to attend training sessions sponsored by the state Health Department’s Emergency Medical Services Division in Syracuse with regional trainings in Syracuse, St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties, Mountain Lakes, Finger Lakes, Lewis County and the North Country Emergency Medical Services Program Agency’s annual “Spring Fling” EMS training in Alexandria Bay.

n The squad’s volunteers and staff keep abreast of skills through a monthly training program supplemented by multiple outside training courses.

n The squad’s roster includes one paramedic, seven advanced critical care emergency medical technicians, 22 basic EMTs, 17 certified drivers and 18 members of the specialized extrication team. The squad also has a paid staff that consists of one Advanced Life Support provider that is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also paid are one critical care paramedic, three paramedics and seven advanced critical care EMTs.

n All of the volunteer and paid staff must be certified every three years by the state to stay current with advances in emergency medicine.

n The squad took part in a driving while intoxicated drill at the Ogdensburg Free Academy, meant to show the impact that one night of drinking and driving can have not only on the driver but on families and other innocent victims involved.

n The water rescue team responded to 10 calls in 2012.

n The rescue/vehicle team responded to 122 calls.

n The Extrication Team responded to 122 calls for service.

n The squad organized a countywide mass casualty drill that depicted a school bus-vehicle accident.

n The squad purchased four laryngoscopes to enable the quick insertion of a breathing tube. Equipment has been updated with the purchase of spreader arms to extricate trapped people faster.

n The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad also installed a computer server for improved patient record-keeping and patient information security.

More information, applications for membership and ways to donate can be found on the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squads web site at www.ogdensburgrescue.org.

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