Delmar-Bethlehem EMS

Overview
Delmar-Bethlehem EMS is a volunteer-led not-for-profit community-based corporation that works in partnership with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office EMS Unit to provide emergency ambulance service for the Town of Bethlehem covering the communities of Delmar, Elsmere, Glenmont, North Bethlehem, Selkirk, Slingerlands, and South Bethlehem. Delmar-Bethlehem EMS is the product of the 2013 merger of Delmar EMS and Bethlehem EMS.

In 2018, DBEMS and their fleet of six ambulances responded to 3,840 calls for assistance. They use a hybrid staffing model to meet the needs of the community. This means that the agency is predominantly staffed by volunteers from 6:00pm - 6:00am every night. Approximately 70 volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Advanced EMTs, paramedics, and ambulance drivers respond to calls for medical assistance. Between the daytime hours of 6:00am - 6:00pm, paid EMTs from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office EMS Unit supplement the volunteers by staffing three DBEMS ambulances.

Each 911 call in our community is answered with a dual response - a DBEMS ambulance and an Albany County Sheriff’s Office EMS Unit paramedic. The Albany County Sheriff’s Office stations at least two paramedics in the Town of Bethlehem 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The two agencies join together to provide care on calls requiring advanced life support. DBEMS is also an advanced life support (AEMT) agency.

History
The Delmar Fire Department Rescue Squad was organized in 1939. The squad’s first ambulance was a converted 1934 Packard hearse, donated by Peter Applebee. At the time there were only two other ambulances in Albany County. The squad’s next ambulance was a 1948 Packard. In 1960, a Cadillac ambulance was received, again a gift from Mr. Applebee. Back then the squad answered approximately 20 calls per month.

In 1956, a small group of people met at the Bethlehem Grange to found the Bethlehem Volunteer Ambulance Service. The ambulance was housed in the Selkirk firehouse and rotated to the Glenmont firehouse and South Bethlehem firehouse on a weekly basis, until moving to the current ambulance building at 1121 Route 9W. The ambulance squad grew to have three ambulances and more than forty members.

The Delmar Fire Department Paramedics were among the first paramedics in Albany County and in the late 1970s brought advanced life support care to the Town of Bethlehem.

In 2009 the Delmar Rescue Squad was spun off from the Delmar Fire Department and the Delmar Volunteer Ambulance Service was formed. The ambulance service and fire department worked closely together, sharing many members and continuing to be co-located in the Delmar Fire Stations. In January 2013, Bethlehem Volunteer Ambulance Service and Delmar Volunteer Ambulance Service integrated their operations and announced their intention to merge the corporations and become Delmar-Bethlehem EMS. The merger was completed in early 2014.

Upon the closure of the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service in 2017, DBEMS offered to merge with the VAAS and give a new home to the members of VAAS so they could continue as volunteer EMTs. The merger was completed in 2018.

Today
Being the product of the merger of three different agencies, DBEMS has demonstrated that proud not-not-for profit agencies can come together as one to create a stronger future. Three agencies with great histories are now one proud and successful agency.

DBEMS is supported by a combination of billing revenue, tax funds provided by the Town of Bethlehem Ambulance District, and donations. The total ambulance tax paid by residents to support Delmar-Bethlehem EMS has been gradually reduced by more than 50 percent since 2012. A recent study of the manpower value and administrative savings created by DBEMS identified $4.5 million in savings in the five years from 2013 to 2017 through the use of volunteers and introducing efficiencies in the EMS system.

DBEMS and the Albany County Sheriff’s Office EMS Unit are innovators in health care quality and technology. They were among the first agencies in the area to implement a paperless electronic medical record. They have implemented the LUCAS 2 automated CPR compression system to improve the care of persons suffering cardiac arrest.

DBEMS was awarded the 2012 Agency of the Year for the six-county Hudson-Mohawk Region, and they also recently received the award again in 2018. During 2018 the volunteers put in more than 15,000 hours.

DBEMS also has an innovative relationship with Sabic Innovative Plastics, which has an ambulance squad of its own at their Selkirk business location. Through a unique partnership, the Sabic EMTs volunteer to staff a DBEMS ambulance for a 12-hour shift each week, providing service to the community.

Volunteers Wanted
Delmar-Bethlehem EMS is always looking for volunteers. If you are interested in becoming an EMT and can dedicate between 6 - 12 hours per week to be available to respond to emergencies, primarily within the Town of Bethlehem. No prior emergency response experience is required. Visit the Volunteering Page for more information.

New College Student Bunk-In Program
Delmar-Bethlehem EMS is launching a bunk-in program that will provide rent free housing to qualifying college students in exchange for being an active and responding ambulance crew member. This program is available to college students living in the Albany area who are EMT certified and ready for duty.

Applicants must:
• Be at least 19 years of age before the beginning of the Bunk-In Program residency
• Be a fulltime student entering their second year of college (no freshman) or EMT-P student in the Albany area or a surrounding county and maintain school enrollment throughout the length of bunk-in participation
• Have a permanent residence outside of the Capital District
• Be NYS EMT certified and maintain certification for the entire period of service
• Ride 24 scheduled hours per week on an ambulance crew
• Meet all the requirements for membership in Delmar-Bethlehem EMS
• Have EMT experience with an ambulance service in New York State, be “Crew Chief” ready, and be able to quickly assume duty as a Crew Chief on an ambulance crew
• Meet all the requirements to be a driver for DBEMS and have either CEVO or EVOC training

Bunk-In Program participants will receive residency in a two-bedroom furnished apartment that will be shared with another Bunk-In participant. The apartment building also houses a volunteer FD Bunk-In program and is one mile from the Delmar-Bethlehem EMS North Station. On-duty time will be spent in one of our two EMS stations with recently upgraded crew day rooms, kitchens, study areas, and private bunk rooms. DBEMS volunteer shifts run from 6:00 pm to midnight and midnight to 6:00 am. Average call volume on the 12-hour evening/night shift is a total of 4 calls per day, split between two on-duty ambulance crews. Duty uniforms and crew equipment will be provided.

To obtain an application, please send a letter of interest and resume that outlines how you meet the above requirement to Jen Kerr at jen.kerr@delmarems.org.

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