Written by Carol Frank Friday, 28 October 2011 00:00
In an award ceremony on Oct. 18, the Vigilant Fire Company’s Emergency Medical Services unit was given the highest award, Agency of the Year, by the Nassau County Regional Emergency Medical Services Council. Chief Scott MacDonald told the Record, “We are very proud of the distinguished work of our members who volunteer and train to provide Great Neck residents with quick and effective medical help in emergency situations. We greatly appreciate this recognition of our members’ dedication and hard work.”
The Nassau Regional EMS Council was established in 1993 by an act of the New York State Legislature. The Council consists of 30 members who live within Nassau County. One third of the members are active EMS providers, one third are hospital based professionals and one third represents other important aspect of EMS such as disaster management.
According to executive director John Hassett, the council works hard to integrate the services of fire, ambulance and police emergency personnel to “ensure smooth running” during emergencies, whether small or large scale.
This year’s award is based on the services and innovations of the Vigilant Fire Company in the 2010 calendar year.
First assistant chief Laurence Jacobs said that every member of the fire company, which has 75 active members, receives some medical emergency training. As new members are sworn in they attend a 20-hour, 2-week course focusing on practical skills that make them an asset to EMT. More than half of the members have become certified by New York State.
For example, firefighters and medics working together can improve the outcome for a person who is trapped in a car wreck. An airbag drill now includes medical extrication of the patient and treatment for crush injuries.
From 2009 to 2010, the company increased the number of EMT members by 20 percent and four members qualified to become rope rescue technicians. Further, the number of Advanced Life Support members increased from 5 in 2009 to 8 in 2010 with an additional 6 that started paramedic school who are due to graduate this year.
The initial training to become an EMT requires that individuals engage in a 6-month program which runs twice a week in the evenings for three hour sessions. That is just the beginning. Mr. Jacobs says that the next important phase of training begins on the job. Experienced members carefully mentor new members and help them deal with real life, fast-moving situations.
There is also collaboration with the United States Merchant Marine Academy EMS squad, integrating their members into the company’s service and drills.
The Great Neck Record asked Mr. Jacobs what the public could do to help the effectiveness and efficiency of the ambulance service in times of emergencies. He said that if your family is served by the Vigilant ambulance service, north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks, you should call their direct phone number, 482-5000. Be prepared. Turn on outside lights for evening calls; make sure that your street number is clearly visible; prepare in advance and have handy a medical summary sheet for family members including a list of medications taken, known allergies and any other pertinent medical information. This is especially important for families with caregivers for children or elderly family members. Thank your local officials for their support of the volunteer ambulance service.
The Record has reported many times after community emergencies, blizzards, floods, micro-bursts, hurricanes, and even an earthquake about the teamwork of the fire service and the emergency medical service to clear the way to reach people in need. We know how deserving the Vigilant Fire Company is of this award.