NEWINGTON - The townâ€™s volunteer ambulance corps is moving into its 50th anniversary year with a new ambulance and high hopes for the future.
Newington Emergency Medical Services has four ambulances and about 56 volunteers, providing services Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and 24 hours a day on weekends and holidays. It is headquartered at 71 John Stewart Drive, behind the Best Market plaza.
Chief Scott Mangan brought the new ambulance to a recent Town Council meeting so elected officials could learn more about NEMS and its service to the community. It cost $151,598 and was bought using insurance revenue from regular transports, along with private donations.
â€śHaving another ambulance allows us to provide emergency medical transport while supporting community events,â€ť Mangan explained.
Residents see NEMS at local civic events such as the Newington Memorial Day Parade and the Life. Be in it. Extravaganza.
National company American Medical Response also has a contract with the town to provide daytime service on weekdays. The company has a separate contract with NEMS to provide paramedic backup during nighttime service.
Volunteers have explored being the sole ambulance provider in Newington, and itâ€™s still a possibility.
â€śWe would like the opportunity to provide service 24/7,â€ť Mangan said. â€śThe time to do it would be at the expiration of ours and AMRâ€™s agreements, in June 2019.â€ť
As the licensing agency for both groups, the state would likely have to recognize one as the townâ€™s provider and the other as backup.
NEMS was founded in 1969 as Newington Volunteer Ambulance and First Aid Squad, with one ambulance and no garage space. In 2014, NVA changed its name to NEMS better reflect the array of services provided to the community.
â€śNowadays itâ€™s very tough for volunteers, but weâ€™ve been holding out pretty well,â€ť Mangan said. â€śWe have a great reputation out in the field. A lot of volunteers use us a stepping stone toward a medical career. We have applications coming in all the time.â€ť
But there is a high turnover rate, since putting in volunteer hours can become more of a challenge for a young person once they graduate school and enter the workforce.
Those who stick with it receive a $1,000 annual stipend from the town and more opportunity to be selfless.
â€śItâ€™s just the feeling that youâ€™re helping fellow citizens, youâ€™re giving back to your town,â€ť Mangan said.
Councilor Beth DelBuono thanked Mangan and fellow volunteers for bringing the new ambulance to Town Hall.
â€śItâ€™s amazing what you are able to fit in there,â€ť she said.
â€śI wish them the best of luck with their new vehicle,â€ť Councilor Diana Serra added.
In May, NEMS responded to 133 calls to 911 and provided stand-by ambulance service at six community events. Volunteers put in over 1,500 hours.
NEMS is offering several classes this fall, including a basic EMT course beginning Sept. 6. that runs for three months, with intensive classroom, skills session and clinical time. For more information visit NewingtonEMS.com.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.