The Mineola Volunteer Ambulance Corps (MVAC) has been keeping the community safe for the past 40 years. It’s hard to imagine that such an important asset to the village had one its first meetings at a local magic shop well before the group had any ambulances to even use.
“Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Mineola Volunteer Ambulance Corps has to do with the efforts of more than one person,” said Thomas Devaney, who is a commissioner for MVAC. “It is the cumulative work of hundreds over the last 40 years and a passionate few who were pushing this initiative years before we even got on the road on April 28, 1979. There were early meetings going back as far as 1977. One of the first meetings was held in a local magic shop. There was a manager at the local Chemical Bank who gave this group, without any collateral $15,000, to purchase a used ambulance and medical equipment.”
Some of those early members of MVAC include Joseph and Louise DiGorgio, Bill Morgan, Don and Marla Franz, Pat Tobin, Tom Egan, Dennis Craine, Frank and Bruce Nedelka, Joan Benatti, Stanley and Peggy Rupnick, Cathy Hirt-Rodriguez, Walter and Diane Strauss, Glenn and Dave Kearney and Cathy Lauterbach.
“The fact that MVAC is here 40 years later, is a true testament to their efforts,” Devaney said. “The number of doctors, PAs, nurses, medical administrators, who run major facilities in the tristate region, who all got their start in MVAC, is amazing.”
Mayor Scott Strauss and his family have deep ties to MVAC as well.
“My mother Diane helped start the ambulance corps with Bill Morgan, Joe DiGiorgio and several others,” Strauss said. “My older brother soon joined as did my father, who is deceased, and I. We were all trained in first aid. My mother, brother and I trained as NYS certified emergency medical technicians. We are all ‘life’ members of MVAC. My mother also served MVAC as president.”
Devaney has been a volunteer firefighter within the East Williston Fire Department since 1995 and a member of MVAC since 2000. What attracted him and others to join MVAC was the desire to help people who are in need.
“We provide all of the necessary training at no cost to the member,” Devaney explained. “The experience gained is invaluable. MVAC is one of the busiest ambulance services in the county and protects a high resident population, as well as a high daily influx of people due to the large number of businesses, medical facilities, government offices and a major transit hub.”
“MVAC is truly a ‘grass roots’ organization, started at a kitchen table in Bill Morgan’s house,” Strauss explained. “The people at that table pushed and pushed and got more and more buy-in from the community and elected officials, all who began to realize the need for an additional organization to provide pre-hospital emergency care to our community. They have been recognized several times for their professionalism and expertise in responding to the many tragedies that have struck our village and surrounding communities. They are a group of highly trained and extremely dedicated people who have saved countless lives—the lives of our friends, neighbors and family.”
Everyone that joins MVAC is either credentialed as an EMT with the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) or completes their certification within their first year at no cost to the member. If the member chooses to increase their level of certification to an advanced level, they are more than welcome to do so.
“We can sponsor them,” Devaney said. “Currently, I hold the NYS DOH certification of EMT-CC (critical care). This allows me to intubate a patient who is not breathing, place an IV and push a number of medications, or use a cardiac monitor to diagnose and treat a number of cardiac emergencies, and I don’t work in the medical field for my career.”
MVAC responds to more than 1,500 emergencies a year. Some of those emergencies can be minor to severe and include slips and falls, narcotic overdoses, auto accidents, belly aches, headaches to shootings, stabbing or cardiac emergencies.
“Just last month, our crew delivered a brand new 5-pound, 5-ounce baby girl named Madison,” said Devaney. “Our members are with people at their worst, their best and everything in between. I was on a Mineola ambulance that responded to New York City on 9/11. So no one can predict what tomorrow will bring. However we train and prep our members to rise to the occasion and exceed all expectations.”
MVAC is always looking for members and has members of all ages in every career currently. If you are looking for experience in the medical field or just want to know what to do in case of a medical emergency, MVAC urges people to join.
“We make it easy to become a member,” Devaney said. “We ask that you go to our website, www.mineolavac.com and click ‘join’, call our house number 516-248-0141 and ask to speak with someone from membership or just come by our headquarters that is located at 170 Elm Pl. in Mineola and ask for an application. Our application process usually takes about a month or so, as we undertake a background check, which is a necessary requirement in today’s world. Once everything is complete, the prospective member is brought up before our existing membership for a vote. Once approved, an officer will notify the new member of their acceptance and they will be given all the tools they need to be successful in the field of emergency medicine. Once they complete a basic orientation, they will be allowed to register for a certification course, at no cost to them, and they will be allowed to ride the ambulance and assist side-by-side our EMTs and paramedics.”
Strauss encourages people to learn the basic first aid principals and CPR.
“You never know when you will find yourself in a situation to save a life,” he said. “And if you are the slightest bit curious about joining this great organization, I encourage you to stop by their headquarters on Elm Place. You will be glad you did.”
MVAC can be found at any number of local community activities and always welcomes prospective members to come up to them and ask questions.
“We had a great location at the chamber of commerce’s street fair last month,” Devaney said. “Our members generally attend outdoor concerts, large football games, tournaments and 5K runs. In the spring, we host an open house with giveaways and other fun things to encourage members of the community to stop in and visit with our group. We organize group tours with classes for the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts as requested also.”