Vigilant Fire Company celebrates 80 years of EMS service

Vigilant Fire Company celebrates 80 years of EMS service
Two of Vigilant Fire Company’s newest paramedic response vehicle and ambulance sit stationed outside the firehouse. (Photo courtesy of Vigilant Fire Company)

When Yve Fouladi first moved to Great Neck in 2000, she had a brush with disaster. A large slab fell on her, pinned her to the ground and left her with bad leg injuries and an exposed bone.

But luckily, help came quickly.

“My first week in my home, a large slab of cement fell on me in my backyard and the Vigilant EMSers were the first to arrive,” Fouladi recalled. “Those guys were amazing.”

And they would come back years later, she added, responding to calls when her mother-in-law was ill.

Fouladi and her mother-in-law are just two of the countless people aided by Vigilant’s emergency medical services, which marked their 80th anniversary today.

While the make-up of the company has drastically changed since the 1930s and work hours overall have increased across the country, Vigilant maintains 18 paramedics, 40 EMTs and a partnership with the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy that provides over 100 EMTs on a volunteer basis.

“It’s a true testament to our membership that as a lot of other fire and ambulance companies have turned around and removed themselves from the 911 system or lightened their obligations to the community, our response times have [actually] gone down,” Vigilant Fire Chief Joshua Forst said.

The company said that it fields slightly under 2,000 medical calls and 400 fire calls per year. But over the years, Forst said, the medical calls they received have “basically doubled, if not tripled” because of rising medical costs – making their role ever more pivotal.

“For a lot of people we’ve become their primary care physician,” Forst said. “As a highly trained service, people to look to us for guidance.”

Vigilant Fire Company is also unique in how long they have offered EMS – especially since it’s volunteer-based.

“Around here it was about 15 to 20 years ago,” Shelby County Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Ivers noted. “There was a need there that private services weren’t able to do in providing services to the community.”

Great Neck’s Vigilant Fire Company also recently acquired two new EMS vehicles – an ambulance and an advanced life support vehicle with paramedic equipment and a cardiac monitor – which increased the fleet of their emergency response vehicles to 12.

Wednesday night will also mark the first time Vigilant officially commemorates National EMS Week in Great Neck.

Jeff Dill, president of the Firefighters Behavioral Health Alliance, said that emergency medical service workers tend to be less recognized.

“They forget about the EMS, our brothers and sisters – they’re the first ones usually on the scene too,” said Dill, a career firefighter and former paramedic. “It’s tough, especially for the volunteer EMS. They are definitely underappreciated.”

As for Fouladi, she certainly appreciates Vigilant Fire Company and their EMS providers.

“I would be happy to go on and on about how awesome they are,” Fouladi said.

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