Ambulance History in Skaneateles

end of hist page Prior to January 1, 1965 ambulance service in Skaneateles was provided by two local funeral directors. They used their hearses, equipped with a cot, small oxygen cylinder, and basic first aid supplies. The vehicle had a roof mounted rotating red light, a small siren behind the grill and placards with a red cross in the side windows. There was no two-way radio in the vehicles. The Skaneateles Village Police Dispatcher would call the “next up” funeral home to activate the ambulance. The funeral director would then call out his personnel for the call. With minimal information, minimal equipment, and just Red Cross First Aid training the ‘ambulance’ would handle the call. It was truly a grab and go situation. Imagine the thought running through the patient’s head as he or she is rolled into the back of ‘ambulance’ and looks up and sees the dark red velvet headliner. Most patients were transported to Auburn Memorial Hospital, unless specifically directed elsewhere by an on scene doctor or police agency. Due to costly operations, unpaid bills and State regulations B.J. O’Neil and Leonard Dell stopped providing ambulance services January 1965. Skaneateles then relied on the Skaneateles Fire Department Rescue Squad and Auburn Memorial Hospital Ambulance Service, sometimes creating lengthy delays. Ambulance service went mostly unchanged until January 23, 1967 when the Mayor of Skaneateles appointed a committee to review ambulance service in Skaneateles. After public meetings in August, and discussions with Greater Baldwinsville Ambulance Corps (GBAC) the recommendation was made to create an independent organization to provide ambulance services in Skaneateles. SAVES old 1After months of planning SAVES elected their first slate of corporate and operational officers on September 7, 1967, over the next few months volunteers were trained in basic and advanced first aid. The first official business meeting was held on January 18, 1968. A white over red Miller Meteor was chosen for the new Skaneateles rig. It was constructed on a 1967 Cadillac chassis. As one person said at the meeting, “Skaneateles people deserve a Cadillac ride.” A radio frequency, (45.52 mhz) base station, mobile radio, tower and license were obtained. The total cost of the ambulance and radio equipment was just over $17,000. Most importantly a permanent home was found for SAVES – an old cabbage barn owned by the Village, behind the main fire station on Fennell Street in the Village. Local contractors did the work of converting this barn into a single ambulance bay and lounge area. The total cost was $2100. We believe SAVES first call was on Friday night November 24, 1967 after a call for the Fire Department Rescue Squad for oxygen. After recommendations of local doctor, SAVES transported the patient to the Community General Hospital. December 28, 1967 was the official start date for SAVES but the corps had already completed 13 calls to date. On January 7, 1967 the Chief of Operations called a meeting to review 7 days of operations and give recommendations.

saves old 4

Crew members were trained by an in-house Red Cross instructor in basic and advanced first aid. A patient handling course was developed in house to familiarize the members with the equipment carried on the ambulance. A Resuci-Annie training mannequin was purchased for under $300 and a large quantity of Gold Bond Trading Stamps. In April of 1968, SAVES received its tax exempt status as a non-profit organization. By May of 1968, SAVES had answered 100 calls. SAVES old 2 SAVES old 3 Since those early days of EMS many advances have taken place, SAVES became an Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider in the late 1980’s. Today SAVES staffs at least one ALS ambulance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is a second full ambulance that can be staffed when needed and a Medic Car. The SAVES primary response district is that of the Skaneateles Central School District. SAVES also renders mutual aid to surrounding ambulance districts. SAVES provides emergency and non-emergency transports, stand-bys at fires, special event EMS coverage, flu clinics and community education.

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This video was shown at our 40th anniversary celebration in 2007.