Do you know how many volunteers we have at the Suffield Volunteer Ambulance Association (SVAA)? If you guessed 92, you would be correct. Sounds like a lot, but there’s always room for more. Volunteers are comprised of EMT’s, advanced EMT’s, paramedics and administrative support. In addition to the volunteers, there are three full-time employees, which include an Office Manager, a Paramedic, and the Ambulance Chief, Art Groux. There are also four paramedic and advanced paramedic per diem staff scheduled on a weekly basis to supplement the volunteer staff.
Do they have enough equipment to provide adequate support? Absolutely. There are three fully-equipped ambulances, complete with all of the state-mandated equipment and extra supplies as well. They are uniquely designed to allow the paramedics to work on patients in the back of the ambulance while buckled into the seat with a seatbelt rather than sitting on a bench seat. This way our paramedics are safe and secure while providing the necessary immediate medical services. Last year they responded to approximately 1,600 calls and have responded to a little more than 400 calls as of the end of March this year.
In order to ensure the ambulances are up and running at all times, maintenance is done on a rotating basis; two available and one being serviced as needed. It’s a rare occasion that all three ambulances would be out at the same time. There’s also a mutual agreement with surrounding towns to provide support in the event that the number of people requiring medical attention exceeds the capacity of the available ambulances. These outside support services occur approximately 125 times each year.
Three non-transport units are available to the duty officer or paramedic. Additionally, there are four support trailers, each with a different purpose. One contains shelter supplies; one is used for large incidents; one is for oxygen equipment; and one contains an all-terrain vehicle for providing services to remote locations.
Many of you have seen the SVAA represented at our community activities such as Suffield on the Green, the Fireman’s Carnival, and High School graduations. There are approximately 15-18 of these stand-by requests each year, the majority of which, are staffed with volunteers. Some of these events require that two ambulances be staffed; one for emergency use and one for the standby event. Should an emergency occur that requires the standby ambulance, it would be dispatched to assist with the emergency situation.
There’s a lot of building going on which means more people and an increase in the volume of calls. When you think about the number of volunteers needed to staff the ambulances, the office, and the increased call volume, on a daily basis, we need to be thinking about increasing the number of volunteers as well. Did I mention that they also get sick or go on vacation? Staffing is especially challenging during the summer and Christmas seasons. Approximately 60 volunteers are needed on a monthly basis. If you’d like to volunteer, contact Art Groux at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where do they get their funding? Approximately 20% of their funding comes from the town, 75% from “fee for service” which is a rate usually dictated based on the insurance payment, and 5% from their annual fundraising activities. In addition to memorial donations, there is one mailing that usually occurs late spring each year asking for donations. You should be seeing it in your mailbox soon. Don’t think about it; just do it. They are there for you; be there for them. Your life may depend on it.