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GBAC celebrates 50 years

— The Greater Baldwinsville Ambulance Corps recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary at the Red Mill Inn, at which the corps gave out new uniform patches to commemorate the past 50 years. Local high school students participated in a contest to provide the newly designed patch to members.

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Ralph Gates is pictured with a hearse donated for the use as an ambulance for the Greater Baldwinsville Ambulance Corp in 1962. With him are James Tasker and Laverne Vanderwater.

During the ceremony, milestone pins were given to several members including 5, 10 and 15 years. Pins were given to others whose active ride time in 2011 was 300 to 1,000 hours. Tony Testa, a 10-year member of GBAC, was inducted as the newest life member. Special Life Time Achievement Awards went to Testa and Bob Sweet, both of whom had served on the executive board as treasurer and secretary, respectively. Other awards were also presented by President Matt Procopio and Director of Operations Matt Cheevers.

A special historical video presentation highlighted the evening, remembering the past 50 years through pictures, articles from newspapers and videos.

With 140 in attendance including active volunteers, career staff members, life members and guests from the community. Special guests included Undersherriff Warren Darby (representing the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department and CNY Regional EMS Council), Multimed and guest Phyllis Gates El-Hage. Sen. John DeFrancisco and County Legislator Derek Shepard also presented the corps with proclamations from their offices.

The GBAC started in March of 1962 when a group of citizens in Baldwinsville recognized a need for an ambulance service in the area. Ralph Gates, a funeral director with the Gates-Sears Funeral Home in Baldwinsville became involved and donated the first ambulance, a hearse, to be used for transports. It took numerous meetings, fundraising and volunteers organizing to donate their times and talents to get the corps started. It was later that year, in October that the first ambulance call took place with a total of 25 calls during the first month of operation.

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