Williamsport Ambulance Dave Hays resigns

January 10, 2000

Williamsport Ambulance chiefsBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

WILLIAMSPORT - Former Williamsport Ambulance Service Chief Dave Hays knows when to say when.

After five years in the company's top spot - which involved volunteering 150 hours a month, he said he's burned out and it's time to move on.

"When you get to this point, you're a better person if you step down," said Hays, 33, of Fairplay.

Being chief was no easy task, he said.

"It's a lot of pressure. You're a politician, father figure, teacher and medical professional. It becomes quite a burden," Hays said.

On Jan. 1, former Williamsport Ambulance Deputy Chief Warren "Bo" Miller, 31, of Williamsport, became chief.

"I have no regrets because I'm leaving the department in good hands," Hays said.

Over the years, Hays earned the respect and admiration of his crew, said Brian Lowman, current deputy chief for the ambulance company.


"He did a good job," and Miller should be able to follow his example, Lowman said.

Like many of his peers, Hays said he always knew he would have a career in the fire and rescue service.

A third-generation firefighter, he started out volunteering with the Fairplay Volunteer Fire Department when he was just 16.

The fire station was a place to hang out and learn new skills, and it provided the excitement of putting out fires.

"It's what I loved to do. I left many dates to go out on fire calls," Hays said.

He continued to volunteer, eventually switching to the Williamsport Ambulance Service, rising to lieutenant and assistant chief before taking the top position as chief in 1995.

"It's the pinnacle - the ultimate goal. I'm just fortunate to have been chief of such a progressive department," Hays said.

A full-time dispatcher with Washington County Emergency Services, Hays also works part-time as a medic for the Sharpsburg Ambulance Co.

Additionally, he married earlier this year and has two children, reducing the amount of time he has left to volunteer.

Hays said he will still try to help out when he can.

Hays received his advanced life support training in the 1992, participating in Fairplay's "medic assist" program.

Finding that he liked responding to medical calls, Hays decided to follow a friend's suggestion that he also volunteer with the Williamsport Ambulance Service.

Although he started out as what he calls a "casual" member of the ambulance company, he gradually increased his call volume and in 1992 began to devote all of his volunteer hours to the Williamsport Ambulance Service.

Hays said he likes the fast pace of ambulance calls and being able to "see the immediate results of your actions."

"Firefighting is still exhilarating, but you go on five times as many emergency medical service calls as fires," he said.

Williamsport Ambulance Service goes on about 1,700 calls a year, he said.

"You are just more active. I can go on 10 or 12 calls in one day" as a medic, said Hays, a 1984 graduate of Williamsport High School.

When Hays came to Williamsport, the ambulance service itself was practically on life support.

In danger of losing its departmental and advanced life support status, the ambulance service had insufficient personnel to answer about 50 percent of its calls, he said.

At the time the company had no career medics and existed entirely on volunteer efforts.

To help the company save itself, a committee chaired by Hays was formed in 1993 to address problems.

The committee determined the solution was to increase its third-party billing, which enabled the company to hire part-time medics, he said.

Williamsport now employs 33 part-time paid medics and is able to respond to about 99 percent of its calls, he said.

In 1995, Hays instituted a monthly volunteer advanced life support schedule that provided a more organized system than simply waiting for volunteers to show up, he said.

That same year, Hays implemented a monthly duty officer program in which one person was assigned to monitor staffing and ensure the company had enough medics to respond to calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And in March 1999, Hays and members of other fire and rescue companies started the Washington County Underwater Rescue/Recovery team.

With 13 qualified divers, the team is prepared to save lives and recover bodies in local waterways. A total of $18,000 was raised to purchase a motorboat modified for medical purposes and a truck used to transport equipment and as a place for divers to change.

Having devoted so much time and effort to the ambulance company and other related projects, Hays said he feels sad about leaving but also relieved.

"It's like having a 1,000-pound weight lifted off my shoulders," he said.

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