1999-10-23 / Front Page

Vollies For The Rock?

Ambulance that has been purchased, and stationed at Peninsula Hospital Center, for the planned Rockaway Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

By John McLoughlin

Plans are underway to establish a volunteer ambulance corps to serve the entire Rockaway peninsula. Donald Ventura, a former Rockaway resident and EMT trainer, is working closely with Peninsula Hospital Center to see this idea develop into a reality.

Rockaway has been without a volunteer ambulance corps since the Peninsula Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which started in 1974, ended about five years ago.

An application and proposal for the Rockaway Volunteer Ambulance Corporation (ROCK VAC) has been filed with the New York State Department of Health and one ambulance has been purchased, which is being housed at Peninsula Hospital. The proposal calls for ROCK VAC to assist New York City EMS crews and provide disaster relief throughout the peninsula.

Dr. Raymond, director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Peninsula Hospital, said this is "something we need in the area…it’s been awhile since we had any volunteer ambulance coverage in vicinity."

Saying that new development is creating "a lot more buzz in the area," Dr. Raymond said Peninsula Hospital is behind plans for the ambulance corps.

Ventura, who lived in Rockaway for 11 years and now resides in Brooklyn, is gathering the necessary material and support for ROCK VAC.

Once a medic in the army, Ventura trains EMTs, teaches advanced cardiac life support and I.V. medical certification for nurses and doctors, and is a health and safety educator, having taught first aid, CPR and other such programs at Peninsula Hospital. As a Red Cross disaster service specialist, Ventura trained individuals that went to Turkey to assist in disaster relief after the earthquake hit a few months back. Ventura also provided counseling to the rescuers involved in the Trade Center and Oklahoma bombings.

Ventura hopes to bring these skills to the people of Rockaway through ROCK VAC. Even though one ambulance has been purchased, Ventura’s goal is to have three, one stationed at Beach 116 street, a second at Beach 88 street and a third at Beach 51 street (Peninsula Hospital). Initially, Ventura plans to operate the ambulances from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., but would like to see it expand to cover the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Both Dr. Raymond and Ventura explained the strength of ROCK VAC is that the training will prepare volunteers for jobs within the FDNY as an EMT. "We want Rockaway community members to join…we will train them," Ventura said. Training will require volunteers to take the New York State EMT test.

Ventura sees this as a good opportunity for the young people of the community. "We need to give young people something different--if not don’t expect anything different."

During the approval process by the Department of Health, there will be public hearings. In the meantime, Ventura is contacting local elected officials and community groups, as well as other volunteer ambulance corps.

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