DUMONT, N.J. — The Dumont Volunteer Ambulance Corps has a superstition.
Saying it's been a "quiet night" ensures a flurry of calls will come in.
"Do not tempt the EMS gods," Vice President Steven Permuy said.
The superstition is grounded in experience.
The organization is on track to receive 1,400 calls by the end of the year, averaging nearly four calls per day. One volunteer recalled receiving 17 calls during a 24-hour weekend shift.
The volunteers, who do not bill patients for their service, always respond no matter when calls come in. That could be noon or 4 a.m.
What drives them to this work?
"I wanted to know what to do in case of an emergency. I didn’t want to have to rely on calling 911," Capt. David Oldewurtel said.
He moved to Cresskill partly hoping to work for its volunteers, but the organization was closed down in favor of a paid service. He's worked with Dumont's volunteers ever since.
Other corps members expressed a desire to help people. Although some are on track for a career in the medical field, just as many are white-collar workers who want to be involved in charitable work.
"The members we’re recruiting now are more diverse," Permuy said.
The corps receives $30,000 from the borough of Dumont though the majority of support comes from community donations.
Since the corps members are all volunteers, donations are used for improved equipment or extended training.
"We want to be good stewards of the money we receive," said Permuy, who said the corps likes for its people to be trained even beyond their certification.
Training is necessary to prepare the volunteers for the traumas they'll see. Although the most common call is responding to a senior's fall or difficulty breathing, there are outliers.
Oldewurtel recalls his worst call: a woman on train tracks with both her arms cut off. She survived her injuries.
Not all volunteers are exposed to the traumas in the back of an ambulance. A group known as "auxiliary members" assists the corps administratively by handling reports and maintaining equipment.
Not all volunteers live in Dumont. The corps services Dumont, Bergenfield, New Milford and Haworth.
Dumont's Volunteer Ambulance Corps continues to look for donations and new volunteers in any capacity. Interested parties can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-384-1166.