February 15, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

Congratulations!  Today - February 15, 2017 - it is 75 years to the day since Washington Ambulance Association's very first call.  It's our Diamond Jubilee. We say this is  our jubilee, because we could not possibly do the work that we do without your help and support. It continues to be, as it always has been, neighbors helping neighbors in the small town that we love.  

In this issue:
  • Calling 911 from a Cell Phone
  • Our Very First Call
  • Plans for our Jubilee Year 
  • Thanks to our Donors

When you  call 911 from the Town of Washington, your call will be answered by a 911 dispatcher at Litchfield County Dispatch (LCD) in Torrington. The dispatcher will pick up the phone and will say these precise words: "911, what is the address of the emergency?" 

Location is the single most important piece of information that you can give to a 911 dispatcher. If dispatch knows where the emergency is, they can send help. Even if they don't know what the emergency is, they can send an appropriate responder to investigate. One of the most challenging situations that a dispatcher will face is knowing that there is a true emergency, but being unable to determine the location.

Here's a recording of a 4-year-old boy calling 911 from a cell phone. He is able to tell the dispatcher that his mother has passed out, and that he is in Iowa. Listen to the dispatcher 
working with this child. In case you are wondering, this story (and the other cited one below) both have happy endings.

Today, more than 80% of the 911 calls to LCD originate from cell phones. At the Waterbury dispatch center, the percentage is above 90%. We do not know the percentage for New York City. However, we can tell you this. If you are unable to tell the dispatcher your location, the dispatcher will do their best to triangulate it using current technology. That will work more or less well, depending on such factors as your cell phone, your carrier, the location of the closest cell phone towers, whether you have turned on your location tracking system, and - most importantly - population density. It's much easier to find a person within a defined radius in Washington, Connecticut than in New York City.  Basically, 911 wasn't built for cell phones.   
Our recommendation: One of the best things you can do to be prepared for an emergency is to know where you are. It's helpful for the drivers in your family to get in the habit of being aware of and remembering the closest intersection. The more information that hikers can give us about their path, the faster we can find them. Also, even very young children can learn their address. Here is another recording of a young child calling 911. He's much more upset than the child in the first recording, but he is able to sing his address - that's how his mother helped him memorize it.

Our very first call happened on the morning of Sunday, February 15, 1942, when we brought a patient to Waterbury Hospital. Later that day, we responded to our second call, a car accident on Woodville Road. We brought the patient from that call to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital. 

You may wonder, how did we find out about emergencies in those pre-911 days?  In the 1940s,
long before 911 was thought of, Washington Ambulance Association relied on Mr. and Mrs. Lovell Carter, whose phone number was 448, to provide dispatch services. Mr. and Mrs.  Carter committed themselves to answer their phone 24/7. Upon learning of an emergency, they would make as many calls as needed to secure a crew.

Our first ambulance was a 1937 used Packard. Washington Lions Club members, including Arlo Ericson, Clifford Couch, and George Kaylor, served as drivers. Notes from an early Association meeting show that Visiting Nurse Miss Erika Hofrichter was thanked for "making so many trips to make the patient more comfortable," while Dr. A.H. Jackson was thanked for giving his time to service the ambulance after its return.

Simply put, we have something planned for each month. This Saturday, February 18th, we are offering the first of several free CPR classes (info below). Advance registration is required, as we need to have enough practice mannequins and instructors for all participants. If you are interested, please call or email Mo Van Moffaert (860-350-8380, movanmo@yahoo.com). If this weekend's class fills up, Mo will let you know about future classes. 

In March, we will be offering a class for babysitters and prospective babysitters aged 11-15. Mo Van Moffaert is the contact person for that class as well, so please do get in touch with her if you are interested. 

We will hold an Open House on Saturday, April 29th. This will be your opportunity to tour the ambulance in a non-emergency setting. Note to parents: We always tell kids, "In an ambulance, everything has a place, and everything has to be in its place."

On Saturday, May 20, we will hold an event called Stronger Together. We're going to be just a little mysterious about this one, as we're still working out the details, but we promise you that it is going to be VERY SPECIAL (save the date).

In May,  you will see us at the Memorial Day Parade, and in June, we will again participate and stand by at Community Day.

And that's just the first half of the year!!! 

We are enormously grateful to all of you who contributed so generously to our Fall Fund Drive. We are very fortunate in our community support. Because of your steadfast, year-in and year-out financial support, we were able to purchase our new ambulance without incurring any debt. Additionally, as you may know, we have retained the old ambulance as a second ambulance for a one year trial period.  

During the course of January, we were dispatched for 42 calls. It was a busy month, and we were glad to have two ambulances, as there were several occasions when we deployed both of them. These included an early January motor vehicle accident and the fire at the old Wykeham Rise School. During that incident, our volunteers stood by with both ambulances to support the Washington Volunteer Fire Department and other area fire departments as they tackled this large fire, and to be ready to roll for any other emergencies in town. Fortunately, there were no injuries at this fire.

As you have probably noticed, we don't send out this newsletter very often. We do encourage you to visit our Facebook Page (and, of course, to like us on Facebook). Our Facebook page is a hubbub of activity. We have been posting weekly historical installments for over a year now. We also use Facebook to post timely safety announcements. It is the happening place to go!    


The Volunteers of Washington Ambulance Association
Adam Woodruff, Chief
Heidi Johnson, Assistant Chief
Bill Hickey, Captain

P.S.  You can always find archived copies of our newsletters here. Check out such classics as Top Ten Tips for Safe Winter DrivingLearn to Recognize These Stroke SymptomsThe Life You Save May Be Your Own, and Understanding Overdose and Addiction.


| Washington Ambulance Association | 860-868-7913 | info@washingtonambulance.org |