During the summer of 1949, a small group of Rutherfordians began discussing the possibility of forming a Volunteer Ambulance Corps for the benefit of the citizens of Rutherford. The need for such an organization was becoming more apparent as many of the surrounding hospitals were discontinuing their ambulance service. At that time, the only ambulance available to the people of Rutherford was a 12-year-old model manned entirely by the police force. Answering a call meant drawing a policeman from his regularly assigned duties, often causing a shortage in areas where police were badly needed.
As plans progressed for the formation of the Ambulance Corps, the three men instrumental in launching this project, Mr. Thomas M. Crotzer, Mr. Roland D’Ablemont and Mr. C. Douglas Collyer were working hard to create interest and to recruit potential members. Meetings were held in private homes, and in meeting rooms of the various firehouses as well as informal meetings at the V.F.W. hall. Interest was growing and support was promised. Many of the surrounding towns had already established an Ambulance Corps and a successful operation was in progress.
The efforts of Messers. Crotzer, D’Ablemont and Collyer finally paid off on August 24, 1950, when the newly established Ambulance Corps of 18 members took its first patient to the hospital. The patient was a female resident at 270 Union Avenue who was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic with a fractured hip in a brand new A.J. Miller Company, Cadillac Eight, Metropolitan Model, 100-horse power motor ambulance, capable of carrying three patients with two large side doors for loading the patients. The cost of the vehicle was $7,134.00.
The original headquarters for the newly formed Ambulance Corps was located at the rear of the Ames Avenue Fire House, which had once been the horse stable for the fire department horses. The Borough leased the building to the Ambulance Corps for $1.00 per year. The former stable site remained the headquarters for the Ambulance Corps until its demolition and construction on site of its current facility, which was completed in 1982.
While the primary mission of the Rutherford First Aid Ambulance Corps remains the same today as it did since its inception back in 1949, much has changed in the world of pre-hospital emergency medical care, equipment, training, technology and ambulance call volume. The first annual report submitted by the Ambulance Corps in 1951, which included the last four months of 1950, revealed that the organization responded to a total of 232 calls, of which 47 were test runs, covering 3,013 miles. In 2004, our organization responded to a total of 1,304 calls for assistance, traveling over 13,497 miles. Our first ambulance purchased in 1950 cost $7,134.00, our newest ambulance recently received cost $140,500.00. Up to the early 1970’s, members were alerted to an emergency call via telephone from a physicians answering service. Today, members are alerted to an ambulance call by tone-activated radios with two-way radio transmission capabilities. Members training in the late 1940’s, early 1950’s, consisted of basic first aid training made available by the American Red Cross. Our members are now required to complete at a minimum, the 120-hour Emergency Medical Technician training program and be certified in professional level CPR, along with completing on going continuing education programs and re-certifing their training every three years. The Ambulance Corps first year of ambulance service was started with 18 members, today our organization strength of certified EMT’s has doubled.