Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company marked 15 years of partnership with the United States Merchant Marine Academy Emergency Medical Service by swearing in 47 midshipmen on Monday night, at a time when medical calls are on the rise.
The academy’s work with Vigilant goes back to 2003, when Fire Chief Conrad Singer began a partnership with the academy to expand emergency medical service coverage on the Great Neck peninsula.
It began with a handful of people and now there are at least 150 people, according to Vigilant Fire Chief Joshua Charry, which is pivotal for answering a growing number of medical calls.
Vigilant Fire Company responds to over 2,500 calls a year, according to its website. Both former Fire Chief Joshua Forst and Charry have said in the past that around 2,000 of those are medical calls.
“It gets hard,” Charry said. “Our own people are getting beaten up and having the merchant marines around to help cover all these calls is a tremendous, tremendous help.”
As of 2017, Vigilant Fire Company maintained 18 paramedics and 40 emergency medical technicians, in addition to the midshipmen.
Charry said the auxiliary EMTs, who are all members of the Merchant Marine Academy’s ambulance corps, also gain experience they otherwise would not get on campus grounds.
“It’s something they haven’t done or haven’t been exposed to before, and they have a desire to be able to help in a time of need and have a specialized skill set that most people don’t have,” Charry said.
It also allows them to get state-certified emergency medical training free because they are categorized as auxiliary members and the fire company operates as their sponsoring agency, Charry added.
The fire company has provided EMS service in the Great Neck community for more than 80 years.