The Sleepy Hollow Volunteer Ambulance Corps is stressed, depleted, and greatly in need of more volunteers.
Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio posted a call this week on the village website “for dedicated volunteer EMT’s and drivers to join the Sleepy Hollow Ambulance Corps” and for interested parties to call him at (914) 366-5105 to set up an interview.
Ongoing problems in the ambulance corps came to a head earlier this year, when a series of reported abuses of some members' privileges lead to the Captain James Hayes getting in April and finally with Assistant Chief Brian Duggan in March. Shelly Glover became Acting Captain. The corps moved into the main firehouse on Beekman, a move that was supposed to be temporary but looks now to be . And the membership roster was reduced from over 100 to less than 20.
“Periodically, circumstantial things were going on with the corps that were unsettling to the Board,” Giaccio said. “No disrespect to the Chief, but even at his admission, he had lost control of some members who were kind of quasi-members to begin with.”
The unspecified incidents prompted the village to do some housekeeping on the membership roster, which numbered 120 folks who weren’t necessarily active. The Board revoked all memberships, inviting everyone on the list to reapply for their positions. Only 21 came forward, 19 of which were accepted (two were turned down because they could not commit to the hours, Giaccio said). Now there are 19 serious, committed members, said Giaccio, but it’s “not enough.”
“It wasn’t to get rid of people but to find out who really is a member and who isn’t,” Giaccio said. Many people, for whatever reason, decided not to reapply. “Thank God [Glover] stepped up,” Giaccio said, “because there hasn’t been anybody else stepping up. We encourage anyone to step up. They need members.”
Members must be EMT-certified each year, with free training provided by Phelps Memorial Hospital. Drivers receive first aid and CPR certification and driving training of about 5-6 hours. Each candidate is interviewed and approved by the three Board members who comprise the Public Safety Committee.
“With a small corps, [Glover’s] trying to manage upwards of 800 to 900 calls a year,” Giaccio said, which is almost double the calls they used to get before Kendall-on-Hudson opened. Before this retirement community came to be, said Giaccio, “it was more like 400 calls a year.”
The corps is also asked to standby for high school football games, for all the Halloween events, for the 10K, and so many other special occasions throughout the year. “It’s a limited department requiring a lot of manpower," Giaccio said.
Glover, who could not be reached for comment by the time of posting, is also only volunteering for this unpaid, but very taxing, position. “She has a job, a family,” Giaccio said. “What she needs is support.”
There was a recent incident of on another member for a verbal fight that occurred at the Beekman firehouse, which Giaccio attributed to general unrest in the corps. “There are many disgruntled members who are unhappy with how things are going.”
Glover, Giaccio said, has “the full support of the Mayor and myself, and unfortunately she is a lightning rod, taking the brunt of all the changes. What she needs is help, the support of the community, and the support of the village.”
Giaccio hopes to increase the ranks to 40 to 50 members in order to alleviate the workload on all; at this membership level, volunteers would only have to go out on a few calls a week. “At 19, we have some good people," he said. "If we have more bodies, we’ll be alright.”