855 WINDSOR ROAD, P. O. BOX 32
TEANECK, NJ 07666-0032
Medical Emergency: 911
The Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps is Teaneck's only emergency ambulance service, providing response to medical emergencies and traumas of all kinds since 1939. TVAC is not a municipal agency. One hundred and eight volunteer members provide free basic emergency ambulance service to anyone in Teaneck who needs it. They serve without pay, stipends or allowances of any kind.
TVAC is a private, non-profit corporation, and owns its own ambulances, headquarters and equipment. There are four ambulances located at the TVAC's headquarters at 855 Windsor Rd. Crew members are required to be in quarters for their duty shifts, so sleeping. cooking and eating areas are provided.
All members are required to become certified as Emergency Medical Technicians and must maintain their certifications through continuing education units, with 48 CEUs required every three years.
There are separate stringent requirements for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation. Many members voluntarily add other non-mandatory certifications in Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support, Heavy Rescue and other challenging programs. Some TVAC members are authorized to teach CEU programs that they have developed, but most courses require members to travel on their own time to regional training facilities. While a state fund pays for most or the training, members continue to pay some training costs out of their own pockets. TVAC also has a strict internal driver training program for qualifying members to drive the ambulances.
There were 3,474 ambulance runs in the year 2000, for an average of 9.5 runs per day. Unfortunately, these runs are not spaced evenly throughout the day, but are grouped at random. There were 384 occasions when there were two ambulance calls at once, and 48 instances when there were three or four runs at the same time. The bulk of the calls are between 7 A.M. and 7 P.M., so TVAC carefully husbands its resources so that only emergencies are taken during the daytime. Since TVAC staffs its quarters, initial calls were answered immediately by on-duty crew 92% of the time. Simultaneous calls and some multi-casualty incidents required emergency recall of off-duty members via paging radios. Off-duty members who respond from work or home are authorized to equip their personal cars with blue warning lights. Motorists who see private vehicles displaying blue warning lights should pull over and stop to allow the emergency worker to continue quickly to the scene. It could even be a member of their own family who needs prompt emergency medical care.
When an ambulance is not available to respond within 45 seconds, and the description of the call indicates a possible life-threatening condition, the Teaneck Fire Department, pursuant to a written agreement with TVAC, sends fire units with crews trained to Medical First Responder or higher, to the scene to initiate care while the off-duty responders staff an ambulance and respond. TVAC and TFD also have joint response agreements for calls on the interstate highways, construction site accidents and burn cases. Likewise, TVAC responds a minimum of two ambulances to all fires producing significant quantities of smoke and flame, both to instantly care for any fire victims, and to proactively help protect firefighters from heat stress. This process, called fire ground rehabilitation, is conducted in conjunction with the Box 54 Fire Service Support Service. Cooperation among these units leads to a high level of service to Teaneck residents.
Another productive relationship exists between Teaneck DPW and TVAC. During snow storms, TVAC staffs its own dispatch desk, and immediately after dispatching an ambulance to a call, the TVAC dispatcher radios the DPW supervisor to request a plow and salt truck to the address of the call. This helps keep response times shorter, and prevents ambulances from getting stuck. DPW assistance during storms can be truly life saving for Teaneck residents.
While many challenging calls, including cardiac arrests, auto accidents with entrapment, and other intense emergencies occurred throughout the year 2000, two potentially serious incidents tested TVAC's organizational strengths and abilities. One occasion was on October 6, 2000 when two groups with very different views on matters held opposing rallies across from one another at Cedar Lane and Teaneck Road. While both groups proved to be law-abiding, the amount of commitment felt by many members of both groups, plus the always heavy foot and vehicular traffic at that intersection, caused concerns with how best to provide emergency medical service in the area of the demonstrations which would quickly help anyone who became ill or injured, without adding to the charged emotional atmosphere. TVAC staffed three ambulances with large crews, and activated its own dispatch desk. It was planned that any response in the area would be "low profile", with no use of emergency lights or sounding devices, and where possible, approach would be made from side streets. Crews were selected to minimize aggravating participants of either group by presenting a neutral appearance. When two children were struck by a car near the rally, the call was handled with a minimum of fuss, and the fortunately lightly injured youths were safely transported to the hospital.
The second challenging occurrence was the major snowstorm of December 30, 2000. Snowstorms place stress on an EMS agency, both by increasing the amount of calls, and by making each call more difficult and time consuming. TVAC routinely triple staffs for significant snow events, with larger crews on each ambulance.
Ambulances carry containers of mixed salt and sand, and snow shovels are added to clear a safe path for carrying a patient. TVAC adds a dispatcher to its own radio desk, to minimize added workload on the always-busy police dispatchers. As noted above, this dispatcher coordinates ambulance responses with DPW to ensure safe approach to and exit from the scene of each call. Non-emergency transportation, normally available to Teaneck residents between 7 and 11 P.M., is suspended to keep all units available for the heart attacks, asthma cases, falls and auto accidents typical of snowstorms. These procedures were activated, and TVAC was able to provide help to 26 patients with only slightly-lengthened response times during the time or the snow emergency, and without having to resort to outside aid. Teaneck residents could help the provision of EMS during snowstorms by looking in on elderly or chronically-ill neighbors to make sure that they have heat, that their address numbers are clearly visible, and that a path from the street to the front door is kept clear of snow and ice. People should think ahead when bad weather or other disruptive events are forecasted. People who are dependent on medication should assure a sufficient supply is on hand before the storm arrives. People who are unable to clear their front steps and a path to the street should make arrangements to have it done. Everyone should have a working flashlight so that they can avoid household accidents during power outages.