WAVES HISTORY 

 

For many years, the Camillus Fire Department graciously provided Emergency Ambulance Service to the Town of Camillus; including the Fairmount Fire District.  As the area began to grow, the demands for ambulance service became more than the Camillus Fire Department could adequately handle without reducing the support given to their own fire protection district.  When WAVES was first formed, there were many detractors who felt that WAVES would not survive more than six months.  

 

1970’s

  • 1974 Town of Camillus Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Leland Blanding, approached the Fairmount Fire Department to recommend the incorporation of ambulance service within their department.  During the summer of 1974, two department-wide votes were taken, and the proposal was voted down twice.  At this time the amount of rescue calls for both Fairmount and Camillus fire departments were increasing; adding ambulance service to Fairmount would put a severe strain on their resources, since their main duties were fire protection.

  • 1974, Late August, a Public Notice was made for all those interested in establishing an all-volunteer ambulance service to attend a September meeting.  This meeting was well attended and chaired by the following men:  Robert Sheffield (now deceased), William Wells, William Whyland and Leland Blanding.  The meeting was very productive, applications were available and many people in attendance signed on to form the new ambulance service.  It was announced that regular monthly organizational business meetings would be held.

  • Early organizational meetings were held to determine the role of crewmembers, and their duties while on shift.  A constitution and by-laws were drafted and ratified by the membership.

  • Financial support came from the community in various forms, including annual fund drives, in memorials, individual donations and community charitable organizations, including the Rosamund Gifford Foundation and the Community Foundation.

  • December 1974: the sixth graders at Onondaga Road Elementary School sold tee shirts to earn money to buy their school principal a birthday gift.  The principal told the students about WAVES and what the members were trying to do to help the community.  The principal asked the students to donate the money to WAVES instead of buying her a gift.  They readily agreed, and WAVES first bank account was opened with the sum of $18.46!

  • January 1975: Classes were set up to provide Red Cross First Aid instruction to those members who had no medical training.  Bob Sheffield and Bill Wells were certified Red Cross First Aid Instructors.

  • Early 1975: The New York State Department of Health decreed that certified Emergency Medical Technicians must attend every emergency call.

  • April 1975:  EMT training class held with 38 “First-Aiders” taking the course.

  • Spring 1975:  Through effort of Bob Sheffield, the first ambulance was acquired:  a 1972 Chevrolet, painted a hardly describable shade of taupe.

  • May 1, 1975 12:01 a.m.  WAVES proudly notified Onondaga County Fire Control that they are “On the air!”

  • May 1975 WAVES “goes public” by marching in the annual Camillus Memorial Day Parade.  The members marching were greeted with a standing ovation from the town residents!

  • For the first 5 years of operation, WAVES received and responded to requests from schools, churches service organizations, and scouting groups in the district for in-depth “Show & Tell” events.  Not only did members describe their functions, but they also brought equipment to demonstrate with to provide details of how ambulance services respond to emergencies.  Not only were adults educated, but children were also taught not to fear the ambulance if they needed one. 

  • Housing the organization:  WAVES first corps room was in a portion of the ground floor of the old Fairmount Elementary School on West Genesee Street near Yorkshire Boulevard.  The building was shared with the Camillus Police Department and the town Parks and Recreation Department.  By the second year of operation, WAVES desperately needed larger quarters.  The department’s officers looked at about 6 locations before deciding on the old Texaco station at the Fairmount four corners, now the present location of an M&T Bank 

  • September 1979 WAVES members begin the first class for EMT- Medic to answer the community’s need for ALS ambulance service.

 

1980’s

  • 1980 WAVES moves into the building at 103 Milo Lane.

 

Building at 103 Milo Lane

  • The building needed a new furnace.  One was purchased by member Danny Stouffer and his wife.

  • The second story of the building was added by a local military organization:  “The Sea-Bees.”  They also replaced the roof.

  • The interior rooms were painted and papered several times.  Member John Coomey painted the ambulance bay walls and remodeled the bathroom.

  • New windows were installed and the exterior of the building was painted.

  • Furniture in the building was leftover from various friends in the community.

  • 1982 Some of the Medics started the bridge class to become Paramedics

  • 1983 The new Paramedics began riding the ambulance

1990’s

  • The second floor of the building was finished to add a classroom and storage space.  Money was donated from the Rosamond Gifford Foundation and the Community Foundation to help pay for the cost.

  • The 20th anniversary of the organization was celebrated in 1995.  An open house was held at the building for the community and featured the Camillus Police department fingerprinting children as well as McGruff the Crime Dog.  Tables were set up in the ambulance bay to present information as well as demonstrate skills.  A banquet was held at the Fairmount Fire Department for corps members.  Awards were given out to members at the banquet for a variety of reasons.

  • Additions to the property at Milo Lane included building a separate storage shed/garage for the Squad unit.  Also the property next door to the building was purchased by the organization.  After Fairmount used the vacant house for training, it was demolished and a parking lot was built on the property.

  • In the late 1990’s the number of daytime volunteers was reduced drastically.  Two full-time paramedics were hired to help keep the ambulances in service during the day.

  • Camillus Ambulance went out of service and their district was added to ours, so we covered the entire town of Camillus instead of just the Fairmount fire district.

  • With increased call volume and increased numbers of paid employees, it was apparent that WAVES needed a larger building for headquarters as well as room for a third ambulance.

 

2000-Present

  • April 22, 2001 our new building at 202 Bennett Road was dedicated.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held, with founding member Tom Bassett cutting the ribbon to the new building.

  • September 18, 2001 six members of the organization responded with an ambulance to assist New York City EMS crews with disaster relief efforts after the World Trade Center disaster.

  • In 2005 WAVES celebrated 30 years of service with a banquet for past and present members at the Lakeside fire hall.  Members were honored with various awards.  Several past members that were part of the initial development of the organization spoke about their experiences with WAVES.

  • WAVES newest social tradition:  the family Christmas Party is a big hit with members and their families.  Donations from local businesses help make the event a success.

Fun facts

  • WAVES has a long-standing tradition of being active in the community.  Blood pressure clinics at various locations, including the former Camillus Mall were popular and well attended.  Visits to local schools for various events are common including standbys at the high school for various athletic and band competitions. 

  • WAVES participates annually in the Camillus Memorial Day parade.

  • Ambulances visit area neighborhoods on Halloween and pass out candy to children, as they are trick-or-treating.

  • John Coomey was the first member of the organization to start as a basic EMT and become a Paramedic.

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