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The final Department unit to be attached to Station 2 is the Rescue Squad. Rescue was initially formed by members of Hook and Ladder Company 4, but allowed any Department member to join. In 1949 most of the fires were brush fires, leaving the members of the Hook and Ladder Company little to do. With the money donated by the Mayor of Babylon village the department purchased an Ambulance and put it in service on the first of January 1950. The original Rescue Squad was made up primarily of members from Company 4, but all Fire Department members were welcome, Carl Bode a Fire Policemen from Station 2 was a charter member of the Rescue Squad. The men that created the Rescue Squad were very dedicated and conscientious men. Unlike today, there were not any rules or regulations covering the operation of an ambulance squad. Throughout the 1950s, the members went out of their way to become better trained and have the best equipment. They made arrangements to have Doctors come to the fire house to give classes, they purchased the equipment they felt they needed, if the Board of Fire Commissioners would not pay for something they paid for it out of their own pocket. They joined, as a unit and as individuals, various Ambulance Squad associations throughout the Island. All of this was done in addition to their regular duties in their own fire company. During the 1950s, any member of the Fire Department could become a member of Rescue provided he held an Advance Red Cross Training Card. All members also were required to have telephones in their homes. The community's growing dependance on a Rescue Squad became quickly apparent, in 1950 its first year in service the Ambulance responded to 103 calls, 23 more than the Fire Equipment. In 1964, the Ambulance responded to 409 call and in 1996 over 2000.
The Rescue Squad has provided a vital service to the community, but its growth has been an uphill battle against its big brothers, the Fire Companies. Rescue has always had a hard time maintaining enough men to run the ambulance. Part of its problem has been due to the amount of calls they answer. All members of a Fire Company are expected to answer every fire call the department receives, this is not very difficult because there is usually only one or two calls a week. Rescue can receive as many as eight or ten calls a day, if every member responded to every call they would be "Burned out" very quickly. In order to avoid this problem Rescue was organized as a group system. Each member is assigned to a group and is only required to respond when his group is on duty. One group, consisting of from 3 to 5 people, is on duty from 6 P.M. to 6 A.M., the Day Group, on duty from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M., is made up of anyone that can respond. Depending on the total number of groups each group is on duty anywhere from every other day (2 groups) to once every two weeks (11 groups). The actual number of groups fluctuated depending on the total membership in Rescue, over the last 20 years the average number of groups has been six to ten. Each group is led by a group leader. The group leader is responsible for the personnel and ambulance on the night that his group is on duty. From the time Rescue was formed until 1969, the group leader was also responsible for advising the group of a call. When the dispatcher, be it the Town Police or BCFA, received a call requesting an ambulance, the dispatcher would telephone the group leader at his home and inform him of the call. The group leader then would call all the members of his group and advise them of the call. This system was a little time consuming, but at the same time the group leader knew who was responding to the fire house and who was going directly to the scene. In 1969, the Rescue started using the radio alerting system, doing away with the need for the group leader calling each member. This aggravated Rescue's other major problem, the location of the ambulance.
Since the Department had only one ambulance, 1-9-7, it was housed at Station 1 because this was the only station that had room for it (in fact in the very early years it was kept in a member's barn.) The Rescue Leader and Assistant Leader, (because they were a squad they were not titled Captain and Lieutenant until 1974,) tried to have groups members that were evenly balanced between each Station. If a group was made up of all Station 2 members, at least one of them had to go to Station 1 to get the ambulance. During the first twenty years of Rescue's existence this was not a major problem, the group leader, when he called his crew, could make the necessary arrangements to get the ambulance to the scene. Starting in 1969, when the members were alerted by radio, all member of a group had to report to Station 1 to ensure that the ambulance was properly manned.
Two changes that greatly effected Rescue took place in the 1970s, the establishment of county wide Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Advance Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) training and standards, and the expansion of Station 2. Up to this time most members of Rescue had only Red Cross training. Some members had taken EMT training at Nassau County hospitals, but it was unclear if this training was acceptable in Suffolk County. After Suffolk County set up its EMT and AEMT standards the West Babylon Rescue was instrumental in having this training given locally, with a large number of its members becoming qualified as EMT and AEMT. Up to this time most of the county's ambulances operated under Basic Life Support, BLS, procedures. This was simple basic first aid, control bleeding, administer Oxygen, CPR, and prevention of further injury to the patient until the ambulance arrived at a hospital. This is a procedure commonly called "scoop and run." Along with the necessary training the county also provided the equipment that allowed Rescue to provide Advance Life Support, ALS, services. AEMT were trained and allowed, under supervision of a Doctor via radio or telephone, to monitor EKG's, use the Defibrillator, start IV's and administer Drugs, while the patient was in the field or on the ambulance. While these new "stay and play" procedures take more time than BLS, more lives have been saved by the work of AEMT's in the critical first ten minutes after a person has had a heart attack or sudden trauma. This training is very time consuming, EMT training currently requires 150 hours of classroom and hospital work, but the benefits, both to the public and the EMT's self satisfaction, are great. A number of firemen that would not have joined Rescue before, took the classes and became productive members of Rescue.
The expansion of Station 2 also benefited Rescue; there was now room to house an ambulance. In 1978, the groups were arranged so that each group consisted of all men from one house. On the nights that a group from Station 2 was on duty they would move the ambulance there and return it to Station 1 in the morning. This attracted more firemen from Station 2 to join Rescue, and also cut down the length of time of some calls. The next major change to the Rescue Squad occurred in 1980 when the District placed a second ambulance, 1-9-17 permanently assigned to Station 2, in service. With an ambulance available at both Fire Houses, Rescue experimented with using two groups a night, one from each Station, covering the same area as the fire zones. Unfortunately, because there were only enough members to form four groups at each station, this system was discontinued after only three months (the groups from Station 2 were answering more calls than the other zone).
The biggest and most important changes in Rescue took place during the 1980s. From the time the Rescue Squad was formed all applicants had to be a member of a Fire Company first, anyone resigning from a Fire Company also had to resign from the Rescue Squad. During the 1980s, the number of calls that Rescue responded to was becoming overwhelming for the members to handle. In 1985 Rescue handled over 1600 calls. The Chief tried to boost the number of men available to Rescue by requiring all probationary firemen to "ride" Rescue for three months before they came off probation. It was hoped that this would increase the number of members available so that the number of groups could be increased, and that after a taste of Rescue the new members would stay in Rescue. This requirement, while still in effect today, did not have the desired results. Most of the probationary firemen spent the required three months learning the duties of Rescue, then left without joining the Squad. Each year since the Department had been formed, a few people had expressed interest in joining the Department Rescue Squad, but did not want to be Firemen first. Finally in 1989, the Department made one of the biggest changes in its By-laws since the Department was formed. The new By-law created a new type of membership in the Fire Department, members that would be in Rescue only and not in a Fire Company. It was hoped that this new category of membership would attract housewives and increase the number of daytime Rescue members. A large number of men and women have become "700 number" members, the unofficial name given to Rescue only personnel based on the gear number issued them between Company 6's gear number and Company 8's gear number, but most of them work during the daytime. While the introduction of Rescue only members has not eliminated the daytime problems, the 20 men and women "700 number" members have allowed the Department to place a third ambulance in service at Station 3.
Generally speaking, each piece of fire apparatus is replaced every 15 years, but the ambulance is a different story. Almost every time an ambulance leaves the fire house it travels to a hospital at least five miles away, sometimes twice as far. An ambulance making this trip a few times a day puts a lot of mileage on the rig, consequently the life of the vehicle is only about five years. The condition of the unit has a lot to do with when it is replaced. For example, the first three ambulances were purchased in 1950, 1953, and 1959. The 1959 ambulance was not replaced until 1967 and this one was replaced in 1971. All of these were Cadillac or Superior hearse style ambulances. In 1975, Rescue received its first modular van type ambulance, which has become just about standard for all fire departments on Long Island. This type of ambulance had become necessary because of the extra equipment required to run an ALS ambulance. The growing number of ambulance calls, and the accompanying wear on the department's only ambulance, 1-9-7, made placing a second ambulance is service practical and economical. A BLS ambulance, 1-9-17 was placed in service at Station 2 in 1980. Most likely this ambulance was the old 1-9-7, striped of its ALS equipment, the records are not clear about the actual rigs involved. Three years later another ambulance was purchased to replace 1-9-17. This new ALS ambulance was designated 1-9-9, and housed at Station 1, with 1-9-7 moving to Station 2. 1-9-7 was replaced in 1985. All of these ambulances had been small, compared to today ambulances, gasoline powered vehicles. A survey done by the BoC had concluded that the type of ambulance in use at that time was not strong enough for the equipment and personnel carried. This led to a major change in ambulance type in 1990, when Rescue replace 1-9-9, stationed at Station 1, with a larger Diesel powered truck body. With the number of calls growing each year, there had been 1566 calls in 1989, Rescue started planning on replacing 1-9-7 almost as soon as the new 1-9-9 arrived. The present ambulance quartered in Station 2, 1-9-7, arrived in 1991, only this time the old rig was converted to a BLS ambulance and moved to Station 3 as a spare vehicle designated as 1-9-17. Having a spare rig, that could be used when needed, was a good idea, but because it was a BLS ambulance the groups from Station 3 were required to switch it with one of the ALS ambulances every time they were on duty. Finally in 1994, the District purchased a third ALS ambulance to replace 1-9-17. All three ambulances are basically the same, the biggest difference is color. Every ambulance since the first modular rig purchased in 1987 had been painted white, the last one, 1-9-17, is painted fire engine red. All are fully ALS equipped, including radio communications with BCFA, County Medical Control, ALS Control, and all Suffolk County Hospitals. In addition each ambulance carries a cellular telephone.
The final piece of equipment assigned to Rescue is a First Responder car. For a number of years the District has retained the oldest Chief's car as a spare in case one of the four Chief's cars needed repairs. Beginning in 1996, the District approved the use of this car by Rescue, when it was not needed by a Chief, as a First Responder vehicle, 1-9-80. The Board of Commissioners purchased all the equipment needed for this duty, even having magnetic signs saying "First Responder" to cover the word Chief on the car. The First Responder car is use by AEMT or EMT to assist the day group by responding directly to the scene starting any treatment necessary. If the First Responder is not needed to complete the ambulance's crew, he or she is free to return home to await the next call, otherwise he/she must ride in the ambulance to the hospital.
Members of Station 2 have always been involved in the Rescue Squad. Almost every member of both Companies that attained the office of Captain or Chief have been members of Rescue and many of them have held office in the Rescue unit. The "700 number" members attached to Station 2, have had the biggest impact on Rescue of all members in this category. Since 1990, the first year they were eligible, at least one Rescue only member from Station 2 has been elected a Rescue Officer, including the first female Captain in the West Babylon Fire Department.
1-9-7 Station #2
1-9-9 Station #1
1-9-17 Station #3
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Updated August 25,1998 by Kenneth C Nee