credit: Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps

Wilton’s Volunteer Ambulance Corps is in need of volunteers. So for the first time in five years, Wilton’s first-line medical responders are offering a course to train new Emergency Medical Responders (EMR)–a class that involves shorter training time than the program to train EMTs.

To become a certified EMR takes only approximately 80 hours of training, while EMT certification is 150 hours. Volunteer EMRs on a WVAC crew will be the driver and also help assist in patient medical care. The course meets all Connecticut requirements, and upon successful class completion, students will be eligible to take State Exams and become a CT Certified EMR.

Volunteer numbers are only slightly down–currently there are 46 WVAC members, and according to vice president Brian McDermott, the preferred number is about 50. “About 30% of those are students, either away at college or here, but can only do a very limited amount of volunteer hours due to their student schedules. This puts a bigger burden on the rest of the membership to step up and fill the schedule,” he explains.

McDermott says that staffing driver shifts is primarily where the need is highest because of coverage issues.

“You need to be 21 years of age in order to drive our ambulances. Many of our members enjoy doing patient care and being in the back of the ambulances with patients; as a result, out of all of our members, less than half of them are actually certified to drive,” he says.

McDermott says that the WVAC’s volunteer strain has in no way impacted the community, or impact the level of care or response the organization provides.

“Our members are very dedicated volunteers and will step up and do more then is required of them. However we are trying to lessen the burden on those that do so by holding this EMR class.”

Not only do EMRs become the drivers of the crew, they can also help with on scene care such as taking vitals, first aid, CPR, documentation, and packaging/moving patients, but the primary care in the back of an ambulance would be done by the EMT while the EMR ensures safe transport to the hospital for the patient and crew.

With construction underway on Sunrise Senior Living, the new assisted living facility being built at the site of the former Young’s Nursery, WVAC expects call volumes to increase between 100-150 calls per year, based on the current number of calls to Wilton’s other assisted living facilities–Wilton Greens, Wilton Meadows, and Brookdale Place.

WVAC officials want to be as able as possible for any situation, including in situations when multiple calls happen at the same time.

“Right now our volunteers do a great job handling second calls in town while the primary ambulance is out on a call, where home responders not on shift will either respond to HQ for the second ambulance or go directly to the scene to provide emergency care. That being said, once call volumes increase, second calls will likely increase as well and the more volunteers we have willing and able to answer that call, the better for the community and the less we will have to rely on our mutual aid partners from surrounding towns to respond into Wilton,” McDermott adds.

There are some requirements to keep in mind:

  • EMRs must be 21 years of age or older by Feb. 12, 2019 in order to register, with a valid driver license.
  • There are no immunization or physical requirements for this class. However immunizations are required by OSHA should students decide to work in the EMS system.
  • Student must be physically able to perform required skills (CPR, splinting, spinal immobilization).
  • Good reading skills are required, extensive didactic material.
  • There will be quizzes at each class meeting to assess whether student is retaining information.
  • Students must pass a written and practical exam to pass class.

The course runs Dec. 4, 2018 through Feb. 12, 2019. Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-10 p.m., as well as one meeting on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.. Class will not be held on Dec. 25, Dec. 27, or Jan. 1.

Class is held at WVAC Headquarters (234 Danbury Rd.) on the Town Hall campus.

The cost of the course is $700, including books–but 100% of the cost of the class is reimbursable if the student joins the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and remains an active member in good standing after one year.

Anyone interested in registering through WVAC can do so by contacting WVAC president John Miscioscia at 203.246.7892 or via email.

“Now is the chance to really give back to your community,” says McDermott. “You can save lives, help people in need, and make a difference.”