Editorial: DVAC making a comeback

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
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A little more than a year ago we were writing about the possible dissolution of the Duanesburg Volunteer Ambulance Corps. That was an unpleasant prospect, but at the time seemed the only way to liberate DVAC from the small clique who had effectively hijacked it.

Fortunately, dissolution turned out not to be necessary, thanks to some good moves on the part of the town. As a result, today we are writing a much happier editorial, about how the corps has stabilized and is coming back. There’s still a way to go, but at least it is no longer on life support.

The clique was led by Capt. Bruce Smith and his wife (former chairwoman of the board of directors), who treated the company like their personal fiefdom. Eventually their actions and attitudes drove away many dedicated volunteers and discouraged others from joining, and DVAC’s active roster shrank to the point where it couldn’t be relied on to answer calls in timely fashion, or at all.

For too long the Town Board watched, reluctant to get involved in the affairs of a private organization. But this is one private organization with a very public mission, and the town was providing around $43,000 a year, roughly one-third of DVAC’s budget.

When the town finally did act, last spring, it did so decisively. It cut off funds for the corps and told state police dispatchers to call emergency crews from Rotterdam or Schenectady instead. This was designed to get the DVAC board to dump the Smiths; but when that didn’t happen, the Smiths being so firmly in control, the town found another way to get rid of them. It required all interested members to sign an active roster — and when the Smiths and some others, in a show of defiance, refused to sign, it used the corps’ own bylaws to force them out.

After that it didn’t take long for people to start coming back, new leadership to emerge, and things to improve. There still aren’t enough volunteers, especially during the day, and sometimes outside agencies have to be called. It is very hard to get volunteer emergency workers these days, which is why we have endorsed Sen. Charles Schumer's bill to provide a $1,000 federal tax credit for such service.

But the crisis last year reminded Duanesburg residents of what they have, and brought DVAC some new, committed members. It could use more.

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May 19, 2009
9:07 a.m.
rdenofio says...

AS a Mariville Volunteer Firefighter and EMT I also applaude how the town handled this situation, and how DVAC has bounced back. It is good to see some of my old aquaintenances making calls again!
Ralph DeNofio
Captain - Mariaville Volunteer Fire Department

May 19, 2009
9:48 a.m.
Rene says...

Thank you to DVAC volunteers and the fire departments for the hard work and commitment over the past year. It has been a very long year and we see a light at the end of the tunnel. If it wasn't for all of you this most important service for our people in town would have been lost. Thanks to the Gazette for noticing and most important thanks again to the volunteers of DVAC.
Rene' Merrihew
Supervisor, Town of Duanesburg


May 20, 2009
1:30 p.m.
xxeverafterx3 says...

As a formal volunteer of DVAC, it warms my heart to see them making a comeback. I decided to leave DVAC as soon as all of the political garbage began. Thank God the Smith's have been given the boot, because now DVAC will be a more pleasant agency to volunteer at. I will be reapplying now to volunteer with this company because of the comeback it has made, and the decisions the town has made to support the agency again.

May 20, 2009
10:26 p.m.
plbjtm says...

It has been nearly 11 or 12 years since I left DVAC as a volunteer, one of many victims of the previous leadership. I read with great excitement the progress being made by the town and the new leadership of DVAC. Despite that I live in Kansas, my heart and my soul will always be in Duanesburg and with the dedicated volunteers of the agency.

I learned so much from outstanding leaders like Barton and Linda MacDougall, Marge Cummings, Barbara Salisburg, Walter Wojtowicz, Kenny LaBelle, Karen Strykiewicz, Rebecca Fidler, and so so many others from with DVAC and so many other agencies.

During my all too infrequent visits home, I drive past the new home for the agency and look forward to meeting up with the new leadership, wishing them well and congratulating them on taking the next steps.

Duanesburg (the town, the school, the agency) all contain what Don Weeks once called "Duanesburgers" and we are not only leaders, we are survivors.

Peter L. Brodie


May 26, 2009
7:15 p.m.
DburgDude says...
(This comment was removed by the site staff.)
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