Narberth Ambulance Settled into New Conshohocken Home
Staff says location makes life easier for EMTs and residents alike.
No matter what time of day it is, there are at least two EMTs in a two-story building at 500 Hector Street in Conshohocken, ready and waiting to respond to the call that ultimately could save a life.
And thanks in a large part to donations from the community it serves, that building is a brand new, state-of-the-art substation for Narberth Ambulance.
"I think the location is great for both our people and residents," says Dominic Folino, Executive Director of the Volunteer Medical Service Corps, commonly known as Narberth Ambulance. "This is a state-of-the-art substation that lets us house our people and respond quickly to calls throughout the area."
Saving for the home has been over ten years in the making-- ever since VMSC expanded its coverage area to include Conshohocken around the turn of the millennium. Since then the non-profit has been headquartered in module office spaces and more recently at Conshohocken Fire Company #2, located at Fayette Street and 9th Avenue. While the different locations have always been operational, Folino says there are multiple benefits of the new home.
"We were sharing space before, and this location helps us in situations such as with Hurricane Sandy, where we were able to put another crew here and have more people when we need them," Folino said.
The building is modest in size, but includes a bay big enough to accommodate two ambulances. Inside the facility are a fully functional kitchen and living room, a washer and dryer, and two upstairs bedrooms for those working long shifts.
"It's awesome-- we're excited to have bays to put the trucks in," said Eric, a full-time EMT. "For a while the trucks were sitting outside all year round, and then during snowstorms we'd have to relocate. And we didn't have the amenities we have now-- the comfort of home was not there."
Tony, a part-time employee on duty during Patch's visit, says the sleeping quarters make a difference.
"The whole thought process of having a bedroom in your workplace is a little strange, but EMS work is long hours and you have to give your crews the option to be able to get to sleep," he said.
Narberth Ambulance covers Lower Merion, Narberth, Conshohocken and West Conshohocken, responding to about 6,400 calls a year. 1,500 come out of Conshohocken, meaning crews respond to an average of four calls a day.
But the station needs to be fully staffed around the clock, and the VMSC doesn't generate enough revenue to have paid employees on shift at all times.
"Because we're a non-profit, we don't have a tremendous revenue stream," says Folino, adding that the VMSC sometimes incurs losses when injured individuals are unable to pay their medical bills. "We could never afford to pay [a full staff], so volunteers are the lifeblood and they're dedicated people that help us to run on a day-to-day basis."
Folino says Narberth Ambulance has about 30 full or part time staff members and 70 volunteers. They also depend on donations from the community, and are currently holding a membership drive that helps pay for things like the latest equipment. In return, Narberth Ambulance also offers community services such as child safety seat workshops and an annual Thanksgiving turkey drive, in addition to quality service.
"I think the location is great for the residents, it gives us a real opportunity to be part of the community," says Folino. "You know that if you call 911, there are providers here that are going to get to you as quickly as they possibly can."