This past weekend the Forest Hills VAC celebrated 40 years of service to the community. This is the letter I wrote to the attendees of the 40th Anniversary that appears in the Forest Hills 40th Anniversary Journal:
Dearest Members, Friends, and Honored Guests,
First, I would like to thank you for joining us in celebrating 40 years of service to the community by the members of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps. It is always gratifying when these events roll around to be able to look back and see all the good work that we have done. I also greatly enjoy the fact that while I may feel old, the Corps will always be older.
When the Corps is referred to in conversation, it usually conjures up the image of our headquarters building on Metropolitan Avenue. While the FHVAC is powered by the selfless hours donated by our members, the coordination and focal point of these efforts originates from our headquarters. The building owes its existence to the hard work and efforts of Former Captain, President, and Treasurer Judy Elliot. She worked tirelessly obtaining the property, having the building designed, and seeing its construction through to completion. Without her herculean efforts we would not be in the position of calling Metropolitan Avenue home as we do now.
Another member with a long legacy will also be honored tonight. Former Captain and President Bryce Friedman was responsible for a number of initiatives that ensured the continued financial survival of the FHVAC as we saw a shift in the community, an economic decline, and increased costs to EMS providers nationwide. One of these initiatives was the institution of our third-party billing system of reimbursement. Although Bryce faced ferocious opposition that cited tradition and being community-based, he persevered to prove his argument with fact and by doing so has without question ensured our existence for the last dozen or so years.
One of Bryce’s less known initiatives, but just as noteworthy, is holding the record for the Officer who disciplined the most members for infractions to the Corps policies. Believe it or not, Alan Wolfe is not the record holder in that area! I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the vast majority of those disciplines were issued against myself and my partner Daniel Exler. While at the time it may have seemed “unfair” or as if he were “targeting” us for prosecution, which is why we were sure he was heading to becoming a District Attorney. In hindsight, I am probably a better person but by far a better Crew Chief for it. I’m sure Danny would agree with me… or perhaps not.
As we gather together to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps providing service to the community it is important to note that the way EMS worked in 1971 is not the same way EMS works today. There are rising challenges to healthcare nationwide with a shift beginning to take place away from emergent treatment for acuities to a more preventive managed care model of service that is community based. We, as a community based EMS organization, are in a unique position to take this mission changing challenge on.
We will be successful at this because of the future Judy Elliots who will see daunting projects through from start to finish. We will be successful at this because of the future Bryce Friedmans who will have the vision to embrace change early and often contrary to the mindset of the mob. They may very well be sitting next to you, so be sure to make a note of who they are on your phone, piece of paper, or cocktail napkin. Be sure to bring that back with you and we’ll find out at the 50th Anniversary!
Remember – BSI, Scene Safety