If you are able to make a mask donation to the volunteer Helderberg Ambulance Squad, your official title (for at least a month) will be “Awesome Human”.
In fact, donating masks to this volunteer emergency squad makes you so awesome I even created a special badge just for you.
Feel free to download the PDF, print, and wear it whenever you want to let everyone know about the great work you do.
Or, you can download the image and use it to post to your favorite social media channels. (In fact, please do to spread the word.)
And while it may seem that I’m being glib, please know that I’m not.
I do not live in anywhere near the New York towns where they are based, but I’m am humbled and grateful for their service.
As you learn more about this wonderful squad and the work they do, you’ll understand why making a mask donation to help them is important and definitely qualifies as a good deed for the day.
What Is The Helderberg Ambulance Squad?
The Helderberg Ambulance Squad Inc. is an all volunteer, unpaid non-profit EMS provider comprised of 40 members. 80% of those members are over 60 years old!
Not only have they served the towns of Berne and Knox, New York since 1990, but they also provide mutual aid to a dozen surrounding communities.
Their membership includes the longest serving EMT in New York State and possibly the entire United States, with 61 years of active service.
Another impressive accomplishment is that, among their members, 20 years of service is common and 10 years of service the norm.
Fortunately, a half dozen current members are under the age of 40, so they are excited to know there are people who represent hope for the future of such an important service.Please donate masks to support the Helderberg Ambulance Squad support their NY community.
What Community Does The Squad Serve?
The towns of Berne and Knox, NY are part of a beautiful rural area renowned for their 100 mile views and numerous waterfalls.
The dramatic landscape means that even in the summer with lights and siren they are at least 25 minutes away from the nearest medical center.
The principal industry is family farming. Many of the families who live there have worked the same land for five generations.
Farming, however, is no longer very profitable. So, the tax base in the squad’s service area cannot support a paid ambulance service.
Every month the volunteers of the Helderberg Ambulance Squad contribute four or five full-time equivalents. That is roughly $500,000.00 in services which do not include on-call time.
Go ahead, reread that paragraph and please let it sink in. In this economy and this pandemic, the squad’s volunteers have not wavered.
They are actively dedicated to service because, as Captain Neal Hogan explained to me, “We know our patients and they know us.”
What Does A Volunteer Ambulance Squad Look Like?
I have long been aware of the concept of volunteer firefighters and ambulance squads.
I must admit, though, that I never really thought through the operational aspects of what it means.
Learning more about this special squad has given me a great perspective. I hope it provides some insights for you as well! Here are some of their details:
– Helderberg Ambulance Squad Inc. maintains three ambulances and two stations.
– Since they are volunteers, they respond from their homes 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
– In the first six months of 2020 the squad answered 240 calls.
– In the last 12 months they only missed one call, because they had four calls come within the span of just 40 minutes.
How Has COVID-19 Impacted The Squad?
We know that where COVID-19 was originally found mostly in urban areas, it is now found everywhere throughout the US.
Now, rural areas are also being hard hit, and they are often the ones within even less resources than their urban counterparts.
I learned from Captain Hogan that the state and federal governments have imposed new paperwork and compliance burdens on all healthcare providers. They haven’t addressed the plight of rural volunteer EMS agencies, however.
The discussion, instead, is about hazard pay and overtime pay for municipal employees.
These paid providers take the same risks the volunteer squad does, but they know their agencies will survive the epidemic. Rural and volunteer first responders do not have that certainty.
Not only has COVID-19 taken a toll on the future of the squad, but it is also has a very personal impact.
Sadly, the ambulance squad’s service area has experienced COVID-19 cases, and preventable deaths due to patients afraid to go to the hospital in time.
Also, since many of the squad’s members and their families have their own health challenges they have to be very careful not to contract the virus. This means the service burden has shifted to a minority of their members who can still respond.
Why Is It Important To Make A Mask Donation?
We now know that face masks help prevent the spread of the virus. In many states, people are even required to wear them when they leave of their homes.
In the case of the Helderberg Ambulance Squad, however, they are entering other people’s homes. And they have no idea whether or not the patient (or anyone else in the home) has the virus.
Masks are therefore an essential precaution. For every call the squad makes, to be as safe as possible, they need to mask the patient and any other household members.
As a result, they go through their supply of masks very rapidly.
Local volunteers were able to help with the initial safety gear needs. They kindly provided caps and procedural gowns, but cannot sustain providing the number masks necessary for the calls for the rest of the year.
This is why I’m putting out a call mask donations now.
The Helderberg Ambulance Squad would like to ensure they have the necessary supplies for, at least, the remainder of 2020.
They will accept both disposable masks and fabric face masks. Their preference, however, is durable fabric masks their community can clean and reuse.
Masks should be, at a minimum, two layers of tightly woven cotton fabric and consistent with the CDC guidelines.
Ideally, they would like to have 425 masks donated.
Fortunately, this goal doesn’t have to be donated all at once. The masks will be used throughout the rest of the year allowing them to be received in batches.
So, if you are able to make even just 10 – 15 masks at a time and send them, it will make a big difference to this community.
And because one can never have enough fabric mask pattern options, this is also a great opportunity to try something new!
Try One Of These Face Mask Patterns & Designs
Where Do I Send Mask Donations?
As I have already mentioned, every mask donation counts!
If you are willing and able to contribute, please send mask donations to:
Helderberg Ambulance Squad Inc.
978 Cole Hill Road
East Berne, NY 12059
You can also connect with Helderberg Ambulance on their Facebook page.
Every Day Can Be A “Good Deeds” Day
When the pandemic first took hold the calls for masks were coming in at a rapid rate. I heard from a lot of home sewers that they felt extremely overwhelmed.
They knew they had the necessary skills and materials to help, but couldn’t sew fast enough to meet the always increasing demands.
They were not only sewing masks for the donation requests, but still had their own family, friends, and community to support.
So, making and donating masks felt both extremely uplifting and depressing at the same time.
I was definitely one of those people several months ago, but now I have a different mindset.
For example, when I learn about Helderberg Ambulance’s call for 425 masks, I recognize that I cannot make them all, especially since I’m still sewing for local needs.
But I can make a minimum of 10 masks this month to donate. And each of those masks will make a difference to someone in the towns of Berne and Knox, New York.
And hopefully this post will inspire a handful (or more!) of people to commit to donating a minimum of 10 masks this month. Then next month, more people will see the post and send 10 masks as well. Then the month after that…
You catch my drift, right?
Over a minimal amount of time, we can meet this small community’s need.
Together, we can “go far” and make a difference.
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Please contact me and tell me more!