DUMONT, N.J. – At a time when many ambulance corps are looking for members, the Dumont Volunteer Ambulance Corps is thriving.
It’s got 39 members, including its youth squad—a tradition since the 1960s.
“The more, the merrier,” said Capt. David Oldewurtel of Cresskill. “Right now we’re doing 12-hour duty shifts. If we had close to 50 members, we could knock that down to six hours.
“Then the weekends would be 12 hours instead of 24,” he added. “That would make it more attractive to people to volunteer.”
Things weren’t always as good as they are now. In 2004, the corps hit an all-time low membership of 14 members.
“We paddled the Titanic,” Corps President Heather Haydens said.
In July 2005, when Cresskill moved to paid services, Oldewurtel and six others from that borough were invited to join Dumont. The infusion got the corps back on track.
Additionally, the Dumont corps made a deliberate decision to change the way it did things. For instance, it started scheduling its daytime shifts instead of having whoever was available answer a call.
Also, the corps is flexible in sharing and distributing its work hours.
The youth squad is another key to success. Three of 10 youths who join become lifers, said Hayden, who joined when she was in high school. Now her daughter, Bridget, is on the youth corps.
The teens train with other newcomers who are over the age of 18. They’re all called probate members and they say the corps enhances their lives.
“I had a trauma call where a man had fallen and slit his arm open,” Bridget Hayden said. “It was one of the first times I took charge and it gave me the confidence to take charge of more calls.”
Another youth corps member, Adelaide Abdool, wants a career in a medical field and loves the training.
“Also, if I have an idea, they listen to me here,” she said.
Andy Balog is an adult probate member.
“I need something that takes me away from the world of money,” he said. “If I help somebody and that person takes notice of it, I’m good.”
For more about the Dumont Volunteer Ambulance Corps, call 201-384-1166.