The Volunteer Center For Anne Arundel County recognized Eastport Volunteer Fire Company during the county’s 9th Annual Volunteer Project Hall of Fame Awards program today.
The Eastport volunteers were presented an Innovation Award and inducted into the Hall of Fame for their collaborative project, “Improving Emergency Medical Services to Eastport, the City of Annapolis and Nearby Anne Arundel County”. The receipt of the award also drew recognition from the Governor, the General Assembly and the Anne Arundel County Council.
The fire company’s project culminated with the placing of a refurbished Medic Unit in service at the Eastport fire station that serves as a backup unit when the station’s primary medic unit is busy on another call. When the primary unit is not available, dispatching Eastport Fire Company’s unit saves precious time by avoiding the need to call out a medic unit from a more distant fire station. In the last nine months, this situation occurred 250 times—nearly once a day—where the availability of their close-by second unit made an important difference in the delivery of emergency medical care. Under this arrangement, the unit also responds when needed to emergencies anywhere in the city and nearby areas of Anne Arundel County.
The Volunteer Center’s Innovation Award focused on innovation, cooperation and collaboration between volunteer organizations, non-profits and government agencies. In announcing Eastport’s award, Fay R. Mauro, Executive Director, Volunteer Center For Anne Arundel County offered her personal “congratulations on a wonderful project” and thanked the Eastport volunteers for all they do for our community. According to fire company president Al Kirchner, “This project would have never succeeded without the active interest and assistance of leaders and members at all levels of the Annapolis Fire Department, the work of our volunteer fire company’s members and the financial support of Eastport’s citizens, businesses and civic groups.”
Eastport fire company’s members worked many months to acquire a surplus medic unit and then, with an investment of less than $20 thousand were able to put a ‘like new’ unit in service; it made an immediate and quantum improvement in the level of emergency medical services in Eastport, the City of Annapolis and the proximate neighborhoods of Anne Arundel County.
Mr. Kirchner explained how the fire company first learned from city Fire Lieutenant John Muhitch in February, 2012, that a medic unit from a nearby county might become surplus, and then went on to say, “I went to look it over right away with city EMS Officer, Captain Scott Svoboda, and we were both very impressed. The body was in pretty good shape and it appeared to be in excellent mechanical condition. We knew we wanted the unit.”
After that, the Eastport volunteers simply watched and waited until one day in October, 2012, they got the call that the unit was about to be declared surplus. Kirchner said the fire company’s plans and finances were poised to act, but when the moment came, he still had to scramble to be the first in line to acquire the unit.
Once all of the paperwork for the transfer was completed, the unit was driven to Patriot Fire Equipment in Grasonville, Maryland where some body damage and a fair amount of galvanic corrosion had to be repaired before the unit could be repainted in Eastport Fire Company’s traditional red and white color scheme.
With the major work behind them, the volunteers were getting ready to have a contractor install state-of-the-art LED (Light Emitting Diode) emergency lighting, but encountered delays with the installer. At that point, Annapolis Fire Chief David Stokes offered the assistance of the fire department repair shop since it was “in the interest of the city to help get this unit in service as soon as possible, given the needs of the city’s ambulance fleet”.
Since going in service last January, the unit, designated Medic Unit 362, backs up Paramedic Unit PM-36, a city owned unit in the Eastport station. Depending on staffing conditions, two city firefighters assigned to the ladder truck in the Eastport station can cross over to Medic Unit 362 for a response if PM-36 is on another call. In addition, Chief Stokes said, “This unit also gives us some much needed added depth in our medic unit fleet. Our medic units are very busy and are run hard. The vehicles themselves are quite complex and the electronic medical gear installed in them is also very sophisticated. As a result, they require more maintenance and experience comparatively more ‘down time’ than our fire apparatus.”
The Eastport Volunteer Fire Company has served Eastport and the greater Annapolis community since 1886. They meet monthly on the fourth Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the fire hall at 914 Bay Ridge Avenue in Eastport. The company welcomes anyone wishing to become a member or simply help out with the company’s programs in fire and emergency medical services. Over the past five years, the Eastport Volunteer Fire Company has placed over $650 thousand worth of equipment in service at the Eastport fire station.
Today’s Volunteer Center annual awards program was sponsored by Northrop Grumman and held at the Yellow Fin Restaurant in Edgewater, Maryland.
For further information about the Eastport Volunteer Fire Company, please contact: Albert G. “Al” Kirchner, President, Eastport Volunteer Fire Company, 914 Bay Ridge Avenue, Post Office Box 3332, Annapolis, Maryland 21403-0332; telephone (410) 263-9494.