Mar 18, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
After recounting the harrowing — and simultaneously miraculous — rescue of 10-year-old Charlie Thompson after he fell down a well last October, and the “amazing” and inspiring efforts of Cazenovia Fire and Rescue crews at the scene, Cazenovia Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps (CAVAC) President Greg Widrick awarded the CAVAC President’s Award to the members of the Cazenovia Fire and Rescue.
“The Charlie Thompson call was a very difficult call for all of us … and what the Cazenovia fire department did there that night was nothing short of miraculous, if not divine,” Widrick said during CAVAC’s 40th annual meeting last Saturday, March 15. “They don’t always get the recognition they should … we appreciate you, and we couldn’t do [our jobs] without you.”
The award, accepted for the fire department by Second Assistant Chief Jay Kelchner and Second Lieutenant Mike Wood, was the capstone of an evening in which nearly 200 CAVAC members and their spouses celebrated the organization’s 40-year anniversary with food, drink, laughter, recognitions and thanks.
There was also a two-foot model of a CAVAC ambulance that was, in fact, a huge cake later devoured as the evening’s dessert.
The CAVAC banquet, held in the Cazenovia College Dining Hall, was one of the largest banquets the organization has ever had, Widrick said. In addition to CAVAC volunteers and their guests, there also were in attendance representatives from Cazenovia, Erieville, Pompey Hill and New Woodstock fire departments, Madison County EMS Services, the Greater Cazenovia Area Chamber of Commerce and the Cazenovia Central School District, as well as the mayor of Cazenovia and the supervisors of Cazenovia and Nelson.
While dinner was being eaten, a 20-minute video was shown in which CAVAC members told why they volunteer for the organization. The answers included a desire to help, a way to give back to the community, a way to make a difference, a personal experience with emergency responders that created a desire to become one and, for many, it was a family tradition.
“Once you become a member of the CAVAC family, it is in your heart forever,” one dispatcher said. While a volunteer driver said, “You have to do something to help your community, and this is what I choose to do.”
Charter member Ann Marshall, who also was awarded the Life Member Award at the event, said she cannot believe it has been 40 years already since CAVAC was started. “It’s a great job. I thought so 40 years ago and I still think so,” she said.
Charter member Peggy Laidman, who gave a brief history of the organization during the banquet, said she has volunteered with CAVAC for 40 years because she quite simply loves it and is proud of what they all do.
“People magazine’s founder said at their 40th anniversary, also this year, their success was based on extraordinary people doing ordinary things and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I think this sums up CAVAC members over our 40 years,” she said. “Everybody here should be proud of their connection to this wonderful organization. I know I am.”
Laidman said that CAVAC started in 1974 with 232 charter members and, as of Dec. 31, 2013, has had 1,092 total members. Currently, in 2014, there are 126 active CAVAC members, including five charter members who are still working, she said.
During the past year, CAVAC also has added three new drivers, two new dispatchers and eight new EMTs, Widrick said. He said that in 2013 and continuing in 2014, one of CAVAC’s main goals is to recruit younger volunteers into the organization.
“You don’t need to be retired … you can have a lot in life and still give back to your community,” said Widrick, who is married and has four children, as well as a full-time job as an attorney and coaches his children’s soccer teams. “Don’t wait until you ‘have time’ to do it, that time won’t come, just go out and do it.”
In addition to increased recruitment, other accomplishments for CAVAC during 2013 included the creation of an in-house billing system, the establishment of a caregiver quality assurance process, new uniform shirts for members, technological upgrades and increased EMT training, Widrick said. In 2014, the organization’s goals include the purchase of new ambulances, a continued investment in state-of-the-art technology and increased EMT training and recruitment, he said.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.