I devote a lot of time to volunteering in the Tarrytown Ambulance Corps. Like many of my colleagues, waking up at 4 in the morning to answer a call is not unusual. Sometimes it’s just to reassure someone with a minor malady that they don’t really need to go to a hospital. Sometimes it’s to respond to the Tappan Zee Bridge for a crane that collapsed. We have pagers that wake us up with a long, screeching tone. The tone lasts for about 10 seconds prior to getting dispatch information. Those 10 seconds are like getting a shot of adrenaline. Every time, you brace yourself for an unknown. Anything from having to deliver a baby to watching someone breathe their last breath.
A lot of people wonder why I do this. There is no financial compensation; indeed, the Ambulance Corps has to raise all of the funds needed to operate on our own. We get no tax funding, no support from the Feds, State or Village other than an occasional Grant we have to apply for. We have to spend months in EMT school if we want to get to that level. While some people just drive, even they have to undergo driver training, as well as education in CPR and First Aid. We have meetings all the time that we need to attend. There are chores like cleaning the garage or ambulance. Our paperwork is obscene; every- thing, from Bookkeeping to Revenue Recovery to IT to State Compliance and Inspections, is accomplished by someone willing to give their time for free. And there are never enough of those people. We constantly have to recruit, and I’m writing this to explain to you why you need to volunteer. Here’s why you will find a sense of satisfaction with joining us that will be unparalleled with any other volunteer opportunity.
Every time our ambulance goes out it’s because someone really needs help. We don’t have false alarms, someone has actually asked for assistance by calling 911. We answer over 1000 calls every year, and when you go out on a call you can rest assured that you will be providing assistance to someone who really needs it. Not every call is exciting, nor dramatic, or even absolutely necessary, but your time will not be wasted. You go home every time with a feeling that you’ve done some good and accomplished something. Occasionally, you will actually save someone’s life.
You can give whatever you’re good at. If you don’t want to go to EMT school you can be a driver or a helper. We have people who just help with the office work, or raising money, or IT or PR. Everything that any business needs, we need.
You will connect with your community. In all our endeavors, we connect and help Tarrytown. We give First Aid lessons and Community CPR. We meet our fellow residents at the Duck Derby, Street Fair, 4th of July celebrations, Halloween festivities and many other events. We check Blood Pressures, give tours and provide feedback to people who need health care advice.
Volunteering is a never ending learning experience. It’s not just about learning to provide CPR or Emergency Assistance, either. You learn about yourself. You learn how to keep calm in extreme circumstances. You learn self-discipline and respect for everyone. You gain self-confidence and self-reliance. You gain empathy for those who are suffering. It will make you a better person.
Camaraderie. Everyone in our Corps feels a sense of accomplishment. We work together to accomplish a common goal, and we do it well. A few years ago we won the County-Wide Ambulance of the Year Award from the Regional EMS Council. You will meet many new people from all walks of life and develop friendships that will last a lifetime. Some of us have even met our spouses here.
Most of all, you will gain the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve been a help to your fellow man. No matter what your Religion, no matter what you believe about the after-life or Karma or mortality, this is an endeavor that is needed by people all over. It will give you the sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that you’ve helped someone in their time of need, sometimes their desperate time of need. I can’t really explain it, but when someone looks you in the eye and gives you what seems to be their most heartfelt, “Thank you for helping me”, it truly provides a sense of doing something great.
Come join us. Volunteer!