The History of the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps. as told by Jerry Capute, Past Chief, on the occasion of our 25th anniversary. March 2011.
How it all started!
“The first Ambulance service in Havre de Grace was started by Harford Memorial Hospital in 1929. The Hospital operated the service for twenty-five years until the 1940’s, when was offered to any organization who would accept the responsibility for it. After being turned down by many organizations including the Susquehanna Hose Company and the VFW, the Joseph L. Davis American Legion post agreed to take over the service.
The American Legion formed a committee to operate the ambulance and constructed a small building next to the Legion home. The American Legion Ambulance Corps provided exemplary service from that small building in Legion Square for over 40 years. By the early 1980’s, however, the Corps was in trouble. Call volume was increasing and membership was decreasing and the public support was dwindling. In March, 1984, faced with extinction, the organization committed its resources to ensure its survival.
Over the next two years
the Ambulance Corps was involved in litigation that reduced the treasury to just over $2,000 and depleted its active roster to just a handful of members. By early 1986, despite these problems, Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps was born.
From the onset the “new” Corps,was faced with challenges. Following the separation from the Legion, we were given one year to find a new location. We met this challenge by purchasing a lot that was formally “Knight and Mears Construction Co.” at 629 Revolution Street. Over the next year we selected a contractor that would help us build a metal structure in stages. Members of the Corps worked hard to demolish a structure that was on the property and construction began on the first phase (bays for the ambulance). During the construction of the first phase we were asked to vacate the property at Legion Square. With nowhere to house two Ambulances and a portion of the “Knight and Mears” building still standing, what would we do? The Firestone Store across the street had closed and they had two garage bays that were not in use. We went to them and asked and were granted permission to use their two garage bays until our bays were finished which took approximately three – four months. Over the next nine months phase two (crew quarters) was completed at a cost of less than $150,000.
Over the next few years, we replaced aging vehicles and outfitted their replacements with the newest patient care technology. We took advantage of innovative training opportunities and actively sought ways to improve our effectiveness. By 1991 we attractrd the attention of other EMS organizations when we were featured in the Maryland EMS Newsletter article, “Community Support and Pride in EMS.” In March of 1996 the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) sponsored a national conference called EMS Today. A program at that conference, “Volunteer EMS: Profiles and Strategies for Success” was summarized by JEMS as:
- Why do some services seem to be succeeding while others are not?
- Who is creating success and how are they doing it?
This interactive workshop will address common volunteer EMS problems and profile services that are using innovative approaches to prevent or solve these problems….
Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps was featured in that program as a company that is creating success despite increasing federal mandates, an increased demand in service and dwindling budgets.
as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary as the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps, our members can take pride in our accomplishments and the heritage over the years. Our newest home at 1601 Level Road is by far an accomplishment that we could only dream about 25 years ago. This beautiful structure was built in 1999 and opened in 2000 and will remain the home of the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps for many years to come. During the open house of the Corps in 2000 Chief Jerry Capute stated, “We will not be content to rest on our laurels, however, but will diligently endeavor to achieve excellence.” Happy 25th Anniversary!”