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Henrietta Volunteer Ambulance Service, Inc. was founded in 1962 to ensure that Emergency Medical Services (EMS) would be based right here in town. In the early 1960′s it was apparent that something had to be done to provide ambulance service to the town of Henrietta. At the time, it was taking 30-60 minutes for a commercial ambulance to arrive from the City of Rochester.

Timeline

You can read more about the past 50 years of our agency’s lost history by visiting the Timeline page.

The Birth of Our Organization

A group of citizens began holding meetings to discuss the dire need for EMS service based right in Henrietta. On March 15, 1962, a citizen, Mr. Al Dorren, publicly called for the formation of a “volunteer ambulance service” for the Town of Henrietta through an interview with the Henrietta Post. A public meeting was held on April 14, 1962 at the “Gannett Youth Barn” at the corner of Calkins & East Henrietta Roads. Mr. Dorren became the first President of the soon to be incorporated Henrietta Volunteer Ambulance Service, Inc.

A Certificate of Incorporation was signed on May 25, 1962 and thus, our agency was born. Volunteers started taking first aid classes which required 12 hours of training and another 18 hours of “advanced first aid”. Volunteers were solicited to join and local physicians were called on to assist with training. At the time, there were no New York State standards for the delivery of emergency medical service.

Fundraising & Our First Ambulance

With only 15 members signed-up, a fundraiser ensued and volunteers went door-to-door asking for a $2.00 donation in hopes of raising $13,000, enough money to purchase an ambulance and start funding operations. After much internal political drama, a new ambulance was purchased — a 1951 Buick for $595, acquired from a fire department in Syracuse.

Our First Base

The first ambulance base was located at 3019 East Henrietta Rd, at the corner of Wright Road. HVA owed a debt of thanks to Mr. Frank Bertch and the Webaco Oil Company for helping us acquire the first base for a lease of just $1.00 per year. The original base had a 2-bay garage, a very small 12′x12′ office, a bunk room with a desk, a phone, 3 cots and a table.

Requesting An Ambulance

At this time, residents called for an ambulance by dialing “ED4-2000″ and speaking directly to a dispatcher at the HVA base. The centralized 9-1-1 system was still many years away.

Uniforms

Members’ uniforms consisted of white pants, white shirts and a police-type white hat. As the first agency in the county to allow women members, they wore white dresses with no hat (they later wore nurses-type hats). All members received a silver “medic” badge to be worn on the hat.

Start of Service

The general consensus was that HVA wasn’t really ready to go into service. Members had no experience and only basic first aid training. Nonetheless, service officially began on Friday February 15, 1963. HVA would operate from 6PM to 6AM on Monday through Thursday and 24 hours from 6PM Friday until 6AM Monday. On Saturday February 16, 1963 at 2:00 p.m., a special dedication ceremony was held for the new ambulance service at the Gannett Youth Barn.

Our First Call

A recollection by Barbara Rose:

“On February 15th at approximately 9:00 a.m., the phone rang at my house and it was Bob Childs, the then president of the ambulance. He asked if I could go on a call. My washing machine ran with no clothes in it and I quickly took my 11-month old son to a neighbors. I donned my white dress and we were off. Roger Eury, the first Director of Operations, Bob Childs and I responded to Riverview Heights for a person with a back injury who could not afford an ambulance and needed transportation to Strong Hospital. Roger gave me one of the American Legion hats to wear so I would look official. I remember moving a lot of furniture and going round and round the bed because we were so unsure what to do. And so we began…”

Growth of the HVA

On May 18, 1963, 92 days after going into service, our 50th call was received. By July 30, 99 calls had been answered. HVA had 40 trained volunteers at this time. The original 1951 Buick ambulance, affectionately known as “Old Betsy” finally died on November 6, 1963, after156 calls in Henrietta. This happened just 3 hours after Lou Bark and Bob Childs presented a check to HVA in the amount of $9,800 for a new 1963 Cadillac “Killer-Meteor” ambulance.

With fundraising efforts ongoing, land was purchased from Mr. Floyd Goodburlet at 280 Calkins Road. This site was to become our new home. On August 7, 1964, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for our future ambulance base. A permit was granted to the construction firm of Leo Bopp to build a 3-bedroom ranch house for our new base. On February 7, 1965, a dedication ceremony was held for the new headquarters at 280 Calkins Rd. By that time, HVA had responded to its 530th call and had 75 active members. On February 15, 1963, HVA began round-the-clock operations, providing 24/7 service to the community.

An Agency Rich in History

A small group of very special people accomplished the founding of our agency in just a few short years, with a lot of hard work and many hours of dedicated service. They each had a spirit of adventure and were united in a single purpose: to provide the very best emergency medical care to the citizens of Henrietta, New York.

We, the current volunteers and staff of the Henrietta Volunteer Ambulance Service, are the inheritors of this tradition. From just one ambulance and 200 calls per year in 1963, to a fleet of 10 vehicles and now 5,800+ calls per year, Henrietta Ambulance stands ready to respond as it has for the past 50 years.