• Why The Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps is Awesome {And How to Help!}

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    Two months ago, Hoboken experienced a very scary and fatal incident at its train station that affected everyone in our community in one way or another. As we return to a sense of normalcy in our commuting measures, we thought it important to touch upon the 78 brave men and women who came to the rescue — without asking any questions {or receiving a paycheck for their services}: The Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps [HVAC]. Because we realized that so many don’t know the amazing work that this volunteer organization does on a daily basis, we wanted to share more information with you. One of the first responders, Mike Wachs, reached out to share his story and explain the HVAC mission — and of course we had to delve more into it for all of you.

    hoboken-volunteer-ambulance-corps

    When you dial 911, did you know that the people who come to your rescue are actually 100% volunteers? The HVAC is the primary agency responsible for providing 911 emergency medical care and transport to the residents of Hoboken. As a 100% volunteer organization, they provide services thanks to the donations received from the local community. After chatting with Mike, we sat down with Thomas Molta, a retired Fire Department Chief [over 25 years of service in Hoboken!] and President of the HVAC, who shared a bit more about this noteworthy organization in our town — and why they need our help.

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    ^Tom Molta of HVAC

    The History of HVAC

    “The Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps has never billed a patient for our services, not once, in our 45 year history,” Tom shared. The organization started in the early 1970s when two men, Edward F. McIntyre and Mr. William Matthews, perceived the need for a more organized Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system in the city of Hoboken. Prior to the establishment of the HVAC, the Hoboken Police Department provided ambulatory services in Hoboken. The HPD protocol for responding to calls consisted of picking up a doctor at Saint Mary’s Hospital in a black hearse — and then attending to the request for help {how’s that for a depressing ambulance situation?!}.

    In February of 1971, the required equipment to create an ambulance service was acquired. HVAC was incorporated on February 26th, 1971 and training of the original 14 members began. Initially, training took place in the backroom of the central municipal garage of Hoboken. The corps’ first ambulance was purchased for $3,000 {which was loaned interest-free to the corps by Mr. William Deitrich}, who was the first Captain — who is now deceased. The vehicle was a Cadillac Ambulance from Avenel, NJ VFAS and was numbered E-52. On May 28th, 1971, HVAC responded to its first call — a fire at Pier 5.

    Fast-forward to present day, and  the Corps has been responding to an increasing number of calls on a yearly basis. Last year HVAC responded to over 5,000 ambulance calls {with 88 members on their HVAC team in total} —just to put this into perspective: Bergen County’s ambulance corps responds to less than 3000 a year, so we are doing double overtime in Hudson County. This year it’s shaping up to be 5500-6000 ambulance calls. CRAZY! 

    “Out of 88 volunteers, 78 were present on the day of the train crash,” Tom noted, explaining that some even heard about the accident and called out of work to help.

    hoboken-volunteer-ambulance-corps-2016

    ^A few of the heroes at HVAC

    What’s even crazier is that if you get hurt or call 911 in Jersey City and are in need of an ambulance, you get slapped with about $800+ of ambulance bills. In Hoboken, you have only hospital bills thanks to this great service. 

    So, the reason for sharing all of this: The HVAC needs our help. In 2012 during Hurricane Sandy, they lost $1 million in assets — and currently have an annual budget of $185,000 that is needed. They work solely off of donations, and their building is in need of some major help {it was erected in 1888, and hasn’t had a major makeover since}. They have 11 vehicles, and their oldest ambulance is in need of replacement {which costs a whopping $175,000 to replace}. They’re also trying to purchase a Lucas Device {which is a machine that does perfect CPR — as opposed to human CPR which has room for error/difficult to do in an ambulance from time to time, etc}. Each of those cost $15,000, and they need three.

    How to Help HVAC

    1. Donate to their organization.

    Of course we had to ask how they accept donations, so that we could all pitch in. If you go to HobokenEMS.com, you’ll be able to donate — and they actually accept Paypal and credit card as well as checks. We’re also excited to announce that they will be the recipient of our holiday donation drive at our holiday party {more details to come!}.

    2. Become an EMT [even if you’re a total newbie!]

    While a few of us {*sheepishly raises hand*} may get squeamish at the sight of blood, there are many people who are able to handle it and are true heroes — and if you’re one of those people, HVAC needs your help. If you’re interested in helping out part time {as Mike does — he runs a media planning company full time and does HVAC on the side!}, you only have to commit four days per month to volunteering. The best part? HVAC actually provides an EMT training voucher, so it is of no cost to you to become an EMT. “We’re always looking for people,” Tom shared, “and you’re only required four shifts per month which is about 16-32 hours of time.”

    You can apply online to volunteer here. Note: You can also volunteer as a driver {you’ll need DMV abstract + traning}, or as an “observer” {riding in the ambulance + assisting the EMT}. You must be CPR certified to be an observer. You can apply for certification here.

    How can readers help who aren’t trained?

    As an all volunteer, not-for-profit organization, The Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps relies heavily upon donations from individuals and corporations for the funding needed to continue providing quality emergency medical services to Hoboken community at no cost. 100% of donations go to operations, equipment, medical supplies and staff training. Whether large or small, your donation is so appreciated. Additionally, all donations made to The Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps are tax deductible under IRS section 501(c)(3) to the full extent provided by law. Every dollar counts toward helping us save lives — and what is most poignant is one day it could be your own or a loved one’s life. Click here to donate [website: www.HobokenEMS.com]

    We’re also hosting a holiday party on 12/8/16 with a portion of each tickets’ proceeds benefitting HVAC. Click here to purchase your tickets!

    Editor’s note: I was truly touched by the friendliness, generosity, and dedication of the Hoboken EMS. It takes a special person to spend their free time helping others in the way that the EMS does, and it’s my hope that we continue to recognize this special organization.

    Have a volunteer organization that you’d like to see featured on HobokenGirl.com for the great work they do in our community? Email us: hello@hobokengirl.com. 


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hoboken Girl. She started the site to discover and share the wealth of things happening in Hudson County. Her roots in the area extend to her maternal grandparents, who owned two textile factories in Weehawken and North Bergen. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event/volunteer project or editing her life away, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog + rescue pup, or watching the latest murder doc on Netflix with her husband.


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