ER squad needs volunteers

OBSERVER Photo by Andrew David Kuczkowski. The North Collins Emergency Squad is down to 13 members and dropped 50 calls in 2016. Town Supervisor John Tobia asks the town to step up before a calamity occurs, not after.

NORTH COLLINS — “This is our problem and I think about it every day,” an impassioned John Tobia said. “… God forbid that if something happens to my daughter, who the hell is going to get there and take care of her. Am I going to wait for Gowanda? Am I going to wait for Eden?

“Is it going to take someone to drop dead in order for us to do something? And I am saying let’s do something now. It’s that important.”

Tobia, the town supervisor of North Collins, was informed of the North Collins Emergency Squad’s volunteer need. The squad is down to 13 members and services a large area with just under 300 calls in an average year.

North Collins, like many others that lack the volunteers needed to service its surroundings, doesn’t want the numbers to continue to sink.

In 2016, North Collins had a low year with around 250 calls. Despite that, the emergency service had dropped calls as well.

“Oh God yes, we drop calls,” North Collins Emergency Squad Director Janice Catalano said. “I want to say out of the 2016 year, I want to say we dropped — a ball park figure of — 50 calls.”

Catalano wants new volunteers, though with the cost of training being paid through the emergency squad, those who ask to join will need to be serious. North Collins will vet its applicants seeing if they fit, but stress the need for more members.

Once a call is received and help is needed, dispatchers send an alert. If the immediate area’s emergency service cannot get a team to respond in five minutes, then it will go to adjacent aids. But the time continues to tick.

Volunteers have been dwindling for years, as firefighters and emergency services suffer. The lack of members affects not only the area the service is located, but those surrounding areas that ask for the help.

The North Collins Emergency Squad offers benefits for members who are accepted. The training is paid for, it offers a discounted dental plan once the probationary period passes and those willing to learn more can get paid conferences.

With the benefits come the cost of time. You will need monthly training and must be willing to answer a call at unique hours. Though, the gratitude and service provided to your neighbors is priceless.

“It’s our town, it’s our community and if you’re sitting around all day, well, join the squad,” Tobia said. “They could use something; anything would be helpful at this point.”


Twitter: @Kuczkowski95