VOLUNTEER AMBULANCE CORPS
TVAC ANNUAL REPORT FOR 1996
Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps is the sole provider of emergency ambulance service in Teaneck. Since 1939, TVAC's all-volunteer staff has responded to any and all medical emergencies and traumas within Township limits. Calls are answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by on-duty EMT crews waiting at ambulance corps headquarters at 855 Windsor Rd. Three modern ambulances, built on highly-reliable medium-duty truck chassis, provide first-line service, with an older light-duty ambulance on reserve. All ambulances are equipped with semi-automatic defibrillators for heart emergencies, and each first-line ambulance carries enough basic supplies to start treatment on up to eight trauma patients while waiting the arrival of additional ambulances. One-hundred sixteen men and women volunteer their time, without wages, salaries, or other stipends, so that no-one is ever charged for TVAC services. This is an important achievement, as many people with the most serious chronic health problems, and the most frequent need for emergency ambulance services, almost always have no money to spare. In fact TVAC is the only link in the chain of emergency medical care that doesn't send a bill to the patient. When a person becomes a member of TVAC, he or she is required to become state-certified as an Emergency Medical Technician, and also to complete a rigorous internal training program that includes supervisory reviews, and written and practical qualifications tests. Permanent appointment can only be achieved upon successful completion of all requirements. All members are required to maintain their certifications by attending 48 continuing education units every three years, and by annual recertification in CPR. Additionally, one third of TVAC members are certified to the level of performing defibrillations, and they must also annually recertify. Another strict internal program qualifies members for driving to emergencies. All active members must be in quarters, on duty at least four hours a week to insure prompt, reliable response, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In 1996, TVAC responded to 3291 ambulance runs, an increase of 2.2 percent over last year. This averages to 9 runs a day, but due to the unpredictable and random nature of emergencies, some days saw 18 or 19 runs, with the bulk during the day tour, between 7 AM and 7 PM. About two out of every ten calls occur simultaneously, and 3 out of a hundred occur contemporaneously. On three occasions, four ambulance emergencies occurred at the same time. It should also be noted that even some single emergencies are for breathing or heart-related illness, but a full range of calls, including auto accidents, construction injuries, sports mishaps and violent assaults, as well as other assorted illnesses, required a wide range of skills and equipment. TVAC responds to all working fires and serious hazardous material emergencies in Teaneck, and cooperates with Box 54's fire service support unit in providing fireground rehabilitation of firefighters to prevent life-threatening heat stress injuries. TVAC also provides considerable mutual aid service to surrounding municipalities when their own ambulance service becomes overloaded, and on occasion calls on some of the neighbors for reciprocation when local emergency medical demand exceeds the available resources. Among the most serious challenges facing TVAC in 1996 was the multi-casualty pedestrian trauma on Thanksgiving Day on Route 95, a man struck by a work train under the Cedar Lane railroad bridge, a two-patient assault involving a tire iron that was still in progress when our first member arrived, several hot-weather fires, and a series of multi-casualty auto accidents. Notable also was a cardiac arrest in a Cedar Lane take-out food business while an unrelated multi-casualty auto accident occurred right outside the door of the shop. The middle-aged CPR patient was successfully revived by the first-arriving crew while three more crews, responding from off-duty, treated and transported the numerous injuries from the accident. During the blizzard of Jan. 1996, all four TVAC ambulances were staffed with five members a piece, and one was relocated to the east side of Teaneck so that normal response times were maintained despite thick accumulations of snow and ice blocking streets, walkways and even doorways.
TVAC is not a municipal agency, but is rather a private, non-profit corporation. The Township provides dispatch service via the Teaneck Police, as well as leasing two ambulances to TVAC at $1 year each. However, a restriction in state law limits municipal financial contributions to no more than $35,000 per year. TVAC's annual budget amounts to over $200,000 per year, with major expenses for insurance, training, vehicle maintenance, and disposable sterile supplies. The rest must be raised via voluntary contributions. Unfortunately, only 18% of local residents, and 1% of local businesses contribute to Teaneck's free ambulance service, and major efforts must be made each year to inform the public of our financial needs. The good news is that TVAC personnel situation is good, with ongoing recruiting that makes us the largest, best-staffed emergency ambulance service in Bergen County.
Persons wishing to join, or donate to, TVAC should write to Post Office Box 32, Teaneck, NJ, or visit TVAC Headquarters at 855 Windsor Rd at any time.