Ogdensburg rescue squad responded to 2,844 calls in 2019, aids in community events
Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 8:35 am

BY JIMMY LAWTON

North Country This Week

OGDENSBURG – Despite trying fiscal times Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad remains busy and productive, responding to 2,844 calls for service in 2019, according to a report issued recently.

That includes medical calls, standbys, fire calls, transports and special requests for services from many different places: 21 in the Village of Heuvelton, 61 in the Town and Village of Morristown, 21 in the Town and Village of Waddington, 51 in the Town and Village of Hammond, 10 in the Town of Depeyster.

“We also took calls in the Towns of Macomb, Russell, Hermon, Gouverneur, DeKalb, Madrid, Massena, Potsdam and Rossie. In addition, we responded to the Village of Rensselaer Falls and were available to many other agencies for ALS intercepts. OVRS also made itself available for 145 transfers from hospital to hospital, for critically ill patients, usually to Syracuse or Burlington VT,” Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad Chief of Emergency Services Kenneth Gardner said in the report.

Gardner said that while the rescue squad continues to be active in the community it’s facing tough times.

“In a very critical time in the New York State Emergency Medical Services, The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue squad continues to maintain its commitment to service the communities we serve. Since 2018 in the State of New York, 40 Emergency Medical Services Departments have ceased operation, mostly due to inadequate reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid and lack of volunteers,” he said.

The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad also provides emergency ambulance service in Ogdensburg, Oswegatchie, Depeyster, Heuvelton, Morristown, Hammond, Waddington, as well as DeKalb and Macomb.

Mutual Aid and Advanced Life Support assistance are provided to the ambulance services in Lisbon, Morristown, Hammond, Waddington, Hermon, Madrid, and Rensselaer Falls as needed.

The Off-Shore Rescue Team responds to water-related incidents throughout the county with the St. Lawrence County Underwater Recovery Team.

“Our Rescue/Vehicle Extrication Team has responded to numerous incidents also throughout St. Lawrence County,” Gardner said.

In 2019 the rescue squad made some significant investments.

“We had to continue to upgrade our equipment to meet the increased demand for transports, we purchased a new ambulance and had two of our older ambulances to be remounted, the costs of these to the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad is approximately $400,000,” he said. “We sold an older ambulance to the Chenango Ambulance Service. Unfortunately, in 2018, Phillips ECG Monitors and defibrillators have decided to no longer service their cardiac monitors beginning in 2020. Therefore, in the near future, OVRS will need to purchase new cardiac monitors at a cost of $40,000 each for a total of at least $200,000.

“The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad also has installed a fully modernized patient care reporting. This will enable us to have better patient record keeping and better patient information security,” he said.

In 2019, the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad also repaired roof issues and the entire main portion of the Hackett’s Department Store and the 18,000 sq. ft. available for lease or purchase to a private company.

The squad is also active in the community.

“In 2019, the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad members participated in many community events such as the Polar Plunge. OVRS worked with the Chamber of Commerce to put on a fun event that allowed participants and spectators a chance to come have some fun and laughs for good causes. The members of Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad were responsible for cutting the hole in the ice, getting and maintaining the hot tub for the participants to warm up in and most importantly for the safety of all participants,” he said.

“OVRS Members also participate in community events such as, Chamber of Commerce’s Car-B-Q, Seaway Festival, Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Ogtoberfest.’ In 2020, we are excited to work with The City of Ogdensburg to welcome the Major League Fishing Tournament in July 2020. OVRS also participates in many Fire Department Events, parades and public requests for services. Our members also participate in the ‘Gateway to Career’ days at SUNY Canton, the CGSW Duathlons during the summer months and thanks to the sponsorship of Mort Backus and Sons, we participate in The Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club Expo to help further our commitment to health education in the community,” he said.

In the report, Gardner also took time to thank the community for their support.

“The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad continues to enjoy tremendous support from the individuals and organizations within the communities that we serve. The membership thanks everyone in the community who has supported the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad during the past year by donating to the annual letter drive, making a regular donation, making a donation in memory of a loved one, or leaving a bequest in their will. This support is very important to us. The funds that we receive from the contracts with municipalities and through billing are not enough. Your donations allow us to purchase improved equipment and keep the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad responding to your calls for help,” he said.

The squad is also recruiting for those interested.

“The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad is the ultimate community service organization. The rewarding experience of serving your fellow citizens in their time of need is unmatched. The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad is always looking for new members. If you are at least 18 years of age, a licensed driver, of good moral character, and interested in helping others we are interested in you as a member,” he said. “We will provide you with the opportunity to serve your community in a very rewarding way. We will provide you with the opportunity to become trained in CPR and Pre-hospital Emergency Medical Care. You will also have the opportunity to take training as a SCUBA diver, EMS Instructor, and other rewarding areas of EMS.”

Those interested should call (315) 393-0837 or stop by the Rescue Squad Building at 1223 Pickering St. to meet the duty crew, tour the building and vehicles, learn more about the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, and pick up an application.

More information and applications can also be found on the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad’s web site at www.ogdensburgrescue.org.