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The Following Story appeared in the local newspaper,
December 12, 1978

(click the pictures to enlarge)

New Ambulance Service Starts
Of The Times Staff

click for Newpaper Photo - 12/78SOUTH HARRISON TWP.  Bob Avsec, who turned 21 less than a month ago, got his Christmas wish early this year as an ambulance service for the township went into operation Monday at noon.

Avsec is president of the Unity Service Ambulance Association, a group of 24 men and women who formed this summer to turn a dream into realty.  "We sort of had the attitude", reflects Avsec philosophically, "that some people sit back and wait for things to happen and others make them happen.   We just wanted to be the latter."

SQUAD W-CADDYAnd less than three hours after the volunteer organization began providing the emergency medical service, it got its first call.  At 2:40 p.m., an elderly resident who had complications from a recent operation had to be rushed to Underwood-Memorial Hospital in Woodbury.

It kind of made Bob Avsec and the members of his organization feel good.  The group had worked for months to raise the funds for the $1,000 down payment on a used ambulance they purchased for $5,800 from the Harmony Fire Co. in Mullica Hill.  Money the association raised also went toward outfitting "the rig" as Avsec calls the vehicle.

The Unity Ambulance squad hasn't received any municipal funding to date, the group's president noted, adding that it's hoped that situation will change in upcoming years.

In the meantime, the local association will provide round-the-clock, township-wide emergency service seven days a week.  Under a mutual aid agreement, the squad will also back-up ambulance units, when needed, in neighboring Elk, Harrison and Woolwich townships.

To provide the service here, Avsec said his association has eight state certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) on its duty roster.  Additionally, some members have taken defensive driving courses and a pair of ambulance squad members are certified by the American Red Cross in advanced first aid, according to Avsec.

The association's president admits that the ambulance plan stirred controversy by some officials earlier this year who believed that an emergency medical service wasn't a priority item in this 16-square-mile community of less than 1,500 residents.  The township committee, however, voted in July to recognize the association, clearing the way for a charter and incorporation.

"We've swung quite a few heads since then," Avsec, who is employed with the township's road department said of the initial controversy.  We're getting a lot of good response."

In the past, ambulance service here was provided by four neighboring units, but the bulk of the calls were answered by the Harmony squad in Mullica Hill, to which the township committee gave a $300 annual donation.

Avsec said calls by township residents for emergency medical assistance will continue to he handled by the central dispatcher in the Mantua Township police department.

For now, the ambulance is being housed in the garage of an association member, adjacent to St. John's Methodist Church in Harrisonville.   Avsec said a resident has donated a building for the ambulance, and when the association gets the funds it will construct a garage for the 1971 model vehicle.

Eventually, the organization hopes to house the ambulance in a new municipal building that is being considered.  Avsec is looking for more members for his group - men and women.  We're definitely an equal opportunity employer, "quipped the leader of the volunteer squad.

"We knew we could get this thing off the ground before the end of the year," commented Avsec. "It really is a credit to everyone involved that we could get everything done as fast as we did."


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