1999 ANNUAL REPORT
Since 1939, The Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps has been Teaneck's Emergency Medical Service. 1999, TVAC's 60th anniversary, was another busy year. There were 3524 calls last year, an increase of 3% over 1998, and an average of 9.6 calls a day. The calls involved a wide variety of medical and trauma emergencies.
A wonderful save occurred during a second-alarm fire in an occupied multiple dwelling at 780 Grange Road. Due to the life hazards in such fires, TVAC had sent three ambulances, instead of the two normally dispatched to a serious fire. While the second ambulance was enroute, the dispatcher reported an unrelated "man down" in the main hallway of the municipal building. The TVAC officer in charge of EMS at the fire made a split-second decision to send the second ambulance directly to this call, a decision that came to be the right one. The crew of four EMTs found a 76 year old man in full cardiac arrest. They started CPR, and applied their defibrillator. In about one minute, they had restored a pulse. They continued rescue breathing with a bag valve mask while enroute to the hospital. The patient, a successful painting contractor, fully recovered.
On another occasion, a TVAC crew was called by police officers who had found a 47 year old woman to be dizzy when talking to her about another matter. The police officers' instinct to call for an ambulance was the right one. When the crew checked the woman, she denied being distressed and refused to be aided. However, while the crew was still packing up their gear, the woman vomited, then didn't remember vomiting. They implored her to accept aid, which she agreed. Enroute to the hospital, she stopped breathing twice. The crew successfully resuscitated her both times, and she recovered.
There were three very challenging Multi-Casualty Incidents (MCls) in 1999. An MCI is defined, in Teaneck, as any injurious force or hazardous atmosphere that exposes four or more persons. Two serious MCIs were on Route 95. In one case, an alleged drunk driver drove the wrong way on Rt. 95 express lanes near the Leonia border. She collided head-on at high speed into a car filled with family members returning from a religious festival, causing four people to be seriously injured, and two to die at the scene.
TVAC crews worked closely with the Teaneck Fire Department in the extrication of entrapped patients, and called in off-duty members as well as ambulances from neighboring communities. The traffic jam from this accident caused two other collisions involving injured people.
Another major Route 95 MCI occurred on a Sunday morning when a sudden ice storm caused a thirty-vehicle accident involving one fatality, and eighteen injuries, stretched out over 1/2 mile. Ambulance operations were hampered by the unsafe roads and the need to reconnoiter and triage over a large area. In some areas, TVAC members encountered difficulty walking due to slick conditions. Several patients spoke no English. Surrounding ambulance agencies were called to fill out the assignment of all TVAC vehicles and about 24 EMTS. Ambulance protection for the rest of Teaneck was provided by a Paramus Volunteer Ambulance Corps unit, with a TVAC guide. As usual, several secondary collisions were spawned by this major accident.
The fire at 1500 River Road on 8 Aug. 99 was especially dangerous and stressful for the firefighters. The blaze took possession of a two hundred year old mansion in muggy weather. A major EMS commitment was required due to danger of heat-stress-related illness, plus the dangers from flames, smoke, and building collapse. For eight hours, TVAC members teemed up with the Box 54 Fire Service Support Unit engaged in Fireground Rehabilitation, an organized effort to relieve the dangers of heat stress on the heavily-equipped fire fighters with effective cooling techniques. Despite this aggressive preventative health effort, eight firefighters were injured or rendered ill, some from heat and some from muscular or skin injuries. During this major emergency that required five ambulances, one was diverted to successfully help an adult male who fell out an upper-floor window at the Glenpointe condominiums, and suffered a serious head injury, and another to render aid at an auto accident on Teaneck Road.
Good Emergency Medical Service is no accident. Unlike most ambulance corps in Bergen County, TVAC maintains on-duty personnel in Ambulance Headquarters around the clock. The ambulance building at 855 Windsor Road includes sleeping and eating facilities, with the goal that an ambulance responds to each call within 45 seconds and arrives within six minutes (nationally-recognized good practice calls for an ambulance to arrive within 8 minutes). We met our goal 86.6% of the time in 1999, an improvement of 82 calls from 1998, despite a significant 13% increase in simultaneous calls.
Most responses that take longer than six minutes are the result of simultaneous calls. Two out of every seven, and three out of every 30, calls arrive at the same time. Residents can help solve this problem. DO NOT WAIT TO CALL THE AMBULANCE. Many simultaneous calls arrive at or near 8 A.M. because people experiencing pains, breathing problems, or falls during the night wait until morning to call the ambulance thinking that they are doing everyone a big favor, but by bunching the calls, they are delaying ambulance service, doing both themselves, and the rest of the community a serious disservice. DON'T WAIT TILL EIGHT!
To call the ambulance, dial 911 or call 837-2600. There has been an increasing problem with calling 911 from cell phones, as they do not always reach a cell in Bergen County, even when they do, the call goes through one or more other agencies before it reaches our dispatch center. 911 service was extremely poor during the four days of Hurricane Floyd, with a 37 minute delay, compounded by a wrong location for one 911 call. Fortunately, someone else flagged down a passing police car and the patient got service much faster. You may wish to program 837-2600 into your phone, particularly your cell phone.
Don't forget that you can pull a fire alarm box to get help for any serious medical emergency. The Teaneck Fire Department will render aid, and instantly radio for the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps. In 1999, one crossing guard used a fire alarm box to get help for a child hit by a car, and an off-duty TVAC member used a box to get help for a woman trapped in an overturned car.
Residents can help continue excellent Emergency Medical Service in four important ways:
You can contact TVAC by calling 837-2600, or by writing us at Post Office Box 32.
Back to Teaneck Municipal Services 2000
Back to Home