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Ogdensburg Rescue Squad respond to less calls in 2013

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Newly settled into its headquarters at 1223 Pickering St., the Ogdensburg Rescue Squad experienced a record low in the number of calls last year, at the same time seeing an encouraging increase in its roster.

In the squad’s annual report for 2013, Director of Operations Kenneth J. Gardner said the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad responded to a total of 2,556 calls for service – a record low for the department.

In 2012, the department responded to 2,630 calls – the largest in its 52-year history.

“That is probably the first time in about six years that we have been down in calls,” Mr. Gardner said.

He said the squad’s decision to spend $1.6 million to renovate and move into the former Hacketts Hardware building last March was a positive one.

“The new building has been outstanding for us,” Mr. Gardner said. “It’s given us easier access to equipment and more space. Our response times as a result have been outstanding as well.”

On average, the squad was enroute to a call within 2.87 minutes and arrived on scene in less than 3.25 minutes of dispatch in the city. Including all surrounding areas the squad serves, the on-scene time is 4.7 minutes, Mr. Gardner said.

“Those are amazing numbers,” Mr. Gardner said.

With the new building, the department also has more space for storing vehicles and more room for training.

“It saves us money on site costs, before we would use local storage companies to store equipment,” Mr. Gardner said. “The best thing is that we can now have plenty of room to train our people and stay current with our training. We couldn’t have our meetings in our former building. It is also a space that the community to use.”

The Rescue Squad has 58 volunteers and four paid, full-time members. The number of volunteers increased by 11 in the past two years.

“From a director’s standpoint, I am proud that our numbers continue to rise,” Mr. Gardner said. “For the amount of members to rise – that is something that is just not happening in New York, and we are extremely lucky to have these volunteers available in our community.”

The squad’s volunteers, Mr. Gardner said, donated 19,886 hours of service in 2013.

In 2013 the Off-Shore Rescue Team received a grant from the Clif Bar Foundation to clean up the St. Lawrence River.

As a combination dive between the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad and Blue Fin Diving, they removed submerged debris from in front of the city docks.

“We hope this will be an ongoing grant that will continue to allow us to help keep the St. Lawrence River clean,” Mr. Gardner said. “Thanks also to the city of Ogdensburg DPW for their assistance.”

The dive team responded to 10 emergency calls for service. These calls included boaters in distress and the search and rescue of people throughout St. Lawrence County.

The team is comprised of 18 divers of different skill levels. Current certifications include dive instructor, dive master, rescue diver, basic and advanced open water diver, ice diver, deep water diver and wreck diver, rapid recovery diver and boat operators.

“In 2013, our dive team added new members as well and all members received their certifications as open water divers and continued on and received their advanced diver certifications,” Mr. Gardner said. “We further have other members that received their rescue diver and well as completing a search and rescue course. These members of this specialized skilled team train continuously all year round in local pools to be prepared whenever called upon.”

More information, applications for membership and ways to donate can be found on the Ogdensburg Rescue Squad website at www.ogdensburgrescue.org.

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