In 1949 we began as the South End Ambulance Service administered by the South End Fire Department (SEFD) Ambulance Committee. With funds borrowed from the SEFD, a 1938 LaSalle ambulance was purchased from the Jorda n Fire Department in Waterford and used to provide medical and emergency transportation to and from hospitals and other medical facilities. At that time most transportation was at no charge unless the transport was in excess of 50 miles in which case the patient might be billed to pay for gasoline or for the meals of drivers.
In May 1953 a new Cadillac ambulance was purchased with donations which began a triennial program of procurement of new Cadillac ambulances which lasted through 1975. The 1975 ambulance was certified by the State Board of Health and the Emergency Medical Services Commission. The first modular ambulance was purchased in 1977 to replace the Cadillac which had been damaged in an accident. The modular ambulance afforded better working space for patient care. Runs were now limited to emergencies only and transfers were no longer permitted by State regulation. The 1977 ambulance was replaced in 1982 and that one in turn in 1985 by a Horton ambulance on a Ford chassis. This ambulance was refurbished in 1990 after receipt of our 1990 Horton ambulance. Accordingly, two ambulances are now available for service to the community, one at the Cross Lane Station and one at the Boughton Road Station. In 1995, the 1985 and 1990 Horton Ambulances were both replaced with a set of twin 1995 Road Rescues Ambulances, which are currently in service.
The Old Lyme Emergency Medical Services, as we know it today, evolved slowly over the years. In 1954 the service joined with 13 other ambulances to form the New London Ambulance Association for purposes of providing mutual aid between community ambulance services. By 1968 most ambulance attendants had completed first aid courses and by 1971 all drivers and attendants were American Red Cross certified in first aid. In 1972 some members had taken an 80 hour course at Lawrence 8z Memorial Hospital while others had taken advanced courses locally. By 1976 the service had approximately 24 persons who were Emergency Medical Technicians or were trained in advanced frst aid. In 1978 the minimum crew for an ambulance was on e Medical Response Technician and one Emergency Medical Technician. In 1982 the ambulance became a Plus service, only one of two volunteer services in the state to do so. In addition to basic life support, the service could now use pneumatic anti-shock g arments and esophageal obturator airways where indicated. In 1995, it was taken one step further by becoming defibrillation certified service.
In the 1980’s, Regional Communication Centers were established which gave the ambulance the ability to communicate with a hospital while transporting a patient. Valley Shore Communications in Westbrook answers 9-1-1 calls from Old Lyme (among other towns) and dispatches emergency vehicles on the basis of information received. Similar communications throug hout the state now provide us with the ability to communicate with virtually any hospital in the state. In 1986 Lifestar became available for emergency helicopter evacuation to major trauma centers, and paramedics, trained in advanced life support proced ures, now respond to certain types of emergency situations. In 1988 a salaried Emergency Medical Technician was employed by the town to cover weekday periods when the fewest numbers of volunteers are available to respond to calls.
The Old Lyme South End Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc. is an independent association comprised of about 30 active members. It is basically self supporting, meeting its expenses and capital requirements from proceeds of the annual membership drives and fees charged for transportation. As always, our greatest need is a continuing supply of dedicated individuals who are willing to take the time and make the effort to become certified as Emergency Medical Technicians or Medical Response Technicians and then volunteer an evening weekly or some time during the day to respond to ambulance calls when they occur. If you think you may have such an inclination please contact any member of the Ambulance Association to discuss the matter further.