A History of General Schuyler Emergency Squad
Prior to the year 1971, ambulance service in Schuylerville and the Town of Saratoga was provided by the local funeral director. This was not an unusual practice in rural New York State, and perhaps elsewhere. Population growth in the community placed increased pressure on this service. Managing a funeral service, the undertaker’s livelihood, and providing an emergency response service, as needed, became nearly impossible.
In response to the need presented, a group of local citizens met to establish plans for a volunteer ambulance servicee to provide first aid treatment and transport on a full-time emergency basis. In May 1971, The General Schuyler Emergency Squad, Inc. came into being. In that same year a “pole barn” type, metal clad building was erected on 0.15 acres of land on Ferry Street in the Village of Schuylerville. The building was capable of accommodating two vehicles, a small office, and storage space. Oral history indicates that in 1971, the cost of the building was $16,000. That was our home until 2010.
In the mid 1980’s, a fire caused significant damage to the office and storage area at the back of the building. Fortunately, the company’s vehicles were not badly damaged. Since some reconstruction was necessary, a decision was made to add twenty-feet to the back of the building to create a small meeting, training area. A few years later, 16 feet was added to the front of the building to accommodate emergency vehicles which were greater in length. Since the size of the property remained the same, area devoted to parking of member’s vehicles was significantly affected.
In the early year’s, members providing emergency care were trained to the level of “first aid provider”. In the late 1970’s, a few members had achieved the “advanced first aid provider” level, and an increasing number were training to become EMT’s. In later year’s EMT’s advanced beyond the basic level to EMT-D the “D indicating defibrillation.
Progress and Reality
Through the 1970’s and early 1980’s, our emergency service averaged about 300 runs each year. In following years, a steady increase in the number of runs was noted. The year 2002 ended with 485 runs. Today we average 650 runs per year. While during the early years of our existence the mind set for most runs was “load and go”, i.e. to say that our primary objective was patient transport. A look at the national scene, viewed especially in city and suburban environments, indicated that ambulance services could include advanced live-saving capabilities. Pre-hosptial medicine as seen on TV established new expectations among the general population. “load and go” was no longer enough. Medical research indicated that CPR alone was not enough. Defibrillation, advanced airway management, and administration of life-saving medications were needed in the pre-hospital setting. Improvement in the level of service to our community would have a financial cost. With the idea of increasing income for the purpose of making improvements, the organization implemented “billing for services” in April 1993. The objective was to acquire available insurance allowances. Billing presently accounts for nearly a third of our income. The majority of the funding continues to be through contracts with the Towns of Northumberland and Saratoga. Minimal amounts are acquired fund-raising and grants.
Somewhere around 1998 & 1999, the leadership of General Schuyler Emergency Squad started giving thought as to how we could improve our service to the community by offering advanced life support (ALS). Careful planning, including work with elected officials of our community over a four year period, saw the advent of ALS services in March of 2003. The Town of Saratoga, and the southern portion of the Town of Northumberland now had paramedic service 24 hours a day seven days a week. In November 2004, the ALS program was certified to use additional medications for “Medically Facilitated Intubation” (MFI); these medications assist advanced airway management.
By the ear 2004, a lot of things were happening in a building designed to meet the needs of the 1970’s. We still operated out of a building 30’x75′ in dimension. Our office was moved to a previous closet area so the the crews could have a bedroom. We had a single multi-purpose room that served as meeting room, training area, kitchen, and day room for the crew. Our parking area could accommodate seven vehicles, but when filled would find all but two vehicles blocked from moving by the last two vehicles.
Today we are in our new facility at 901 Route 29 in the Town of Saratoga. This location was chosen because it is centrally located within our response district. We house an ALS crew twenty four hours a day, seven days a week in a new state of the art 7500 square foot building, designed and built by Morton Buildings. This station houses four vehicles in our bay area, three bedrooms, conference meeting and training area, as well as two offices. We continue to evolve and bring in more volunteers and staff to be able to help those that we serve.