The history of the concept of an ambulance begins in ancient times, with the use of carts to transport incurable patients by force. Ambulances were first used for emergency transport in 1487 by the Spanish, and civilian variants were put into operation in the 1830s. Advances in technology throughout the 19th and 20th centuries led to the modern self-powered ambulances.
Fast forward to 1968, a child lay injured on the streets of Malverne, struck by a car and waiting for the Nassau County Police Ambulance to respond. A group of residents who witnessed this scene decided that it should never happen again. With the assistance of the Malverne Lions Club, the birth of the Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps resulted.
The Corps was chartered by the state of New York on January 29, 1969. The initial medical training consisted of a 30 hour course offered through the American Red Cross and was completed by 18 members on June 14, 1969. Within the next several years, nearly all of the Corps members had advanced to become certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). At the time, this training required 81 hours of classroom and practical training and 10 hours of clinical rotations in the hospital.
The Corps responded to its first call in September 1969 and completed that year with a total of 65 calls. The following year, the Corps’ first full year of operation, the Corps responded to 197 calls. By the end of 2006, the Corps has responded to 15,743 calls.
In 1977, the Corps implemented two important systems which would define Emergency Medical Services in not only Malverne, but throughout Nassau County and New York State. The first was the incorporation of advanced life support skills in the Corps. This was brought about through the certification of the first group of Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (AEMTs, now referred to as Emergency Critical Care Technicians or EMT-CCs). This allowed the advanced life saving skills of intravenous therapy, drug administration and cardiac monitoring and defibrillation to be brought directly to the residents of Malverne through the MVAC.
The second system involved the way the Police Department and the Ambulance Corps communicated. In the beginning years, when a call was received, the desk officer at police headquarters would phone the assigned driver of the ambulance who would in turn phone the assigned attendant for that particular tour. This system worked fairly well, however, it was difficult and time consuming to contact additional Corps personnel should they be required to assist at the scene. In 1977, the Corps, with the assistance of the Village Board and Police Department, initiated a system of home alert receivers. These one-way radio receivers did not require the Corps members to keep their telephone lines open while on their tour of duty (this was long before call-waiting!). It also allowed for all of the Corps members to hear of a call and more could respond. The radio receivers were eventually replaced with one-way portable pagers which allowed for more mobility. Today, each local Corps member is issued a pager so that they can be instantly contacted anywhere in the Village.
The Corps did not have a building and the on-duty driver would have to take the ambulance to their home. Other members were also required to keep supplies, equipment and records at their homes. In 2012, forty three years after the Corps began operations, the Village of Malverne constructed a building that the ambulance corps now calls its Headquarters. This building now allows the Corps to accept new members who don’t live in or near Malverne; these members are able to sign up for duty and remain at the headquarters while on-duty.
The dedication of our members to our community extends even beyond the Corps. Former and current members include: former and current members of the Malverne Village Board of Trustees; former Mayor of the Village; former members of the Village Library Board; members of the Malverne Fire Department; members of the Malverne Police Department; former Malverne Police Chief; current and former instructors with the American Heart Association and American Red Cross; Director of Health Services for the American Red Cross; current Executive Director of the Nassau Regional EMS Council; and remember that injured child that started it all – she became a member of the Corps and provided care to others in Malverne for ten years until she moved away!