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Waynesboro Ambulance Squad finds new headquarters

December 31, 2001

Waynesboro Ambulance Squad finds new headquarters



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Robert Herb, a social member of the Waynesboro Ambulance Squad, remembers the days when ambulance service in many small Pennsylvania towns was provided by local funeral directors.

Waynesboro was included in that tradition.

Hearses did double duty in those days. They provided transportation for the deceased and took the living to hospitals, Herb said.

Their sole duty at accidents and other emergencies was to pick up patients and rush them to the nearest hospital. There was a slang saying among ambulance drivers back then: "They called it scoop and run," Herb said.

Modern ambulances are well-equipped, life-saving vehicles manned by highly trained, certified emergency medical technicians who not only transport patients, but often save lives at the scene.

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"We have a much better survival rate today," said Arley Scott, president of the Waynesboro Ambulance Squad.

The squad, which is headquartered in cramped buildings at 48 South Potomac St., just took a major step toward making the unit even more modern.

Scott said the unit has just settled on a real estate deal for the former Snowberger Oldsmobile dealership at 603 W. Main St. The squad bought the nearly one-acre site, the old showroom and a large carport at auction for $145,000.

The property has been vacant for about five years.

The next step, Scott said, is to apply for a zoning change. The property is currently zoned medium-density residential.

Four years ago, the squad bought a one-quarter-acre tract on Madison Avenue with the idea of moving its headquarters there, Scott said. It was later deemed too small and the property is back on the market, he said.

The current headquarters, while adequate for operations, has drawbacks, said Hans Bader, chief of operations. It lacks decent training space, it's too small for the squad's social functions and its location on the corner of South Potomac and Second streets - a busy, dangerous intersection - makes it difficult to back ambulances into the bays.

The West Main Street site will be converted into four drive-through bays that ambulances will enter from the rear, Bader said.

There is also space for training facilities and social events. It will have adequate office, lounge and bunk space as well.

The plans are still preliminary. "We don't have any cost estimates yet," Scott said.

The ambulance service was started in the late 1940s by the Always There Hook and Ladder Co., he said.

In the early 1970s, the fire department separated its ambulance service by moving it across the street into an old gas station at the corner of South Potomac and Second streets.

Later in the '70s, the private, nonprofit Waynesboro Ambulance Squad came into being and took over the ambulance service.

"It just sort of evolved," Scott said.

The original headquarters had two bays, a bunk room and an office and lounge area, he said.

Since then, the squad built the headquarters up to four bays and bought a house behind the station for much-needed office space, Scott said.

Three full-time drivers and four part-timers man the three ambulances, a rehab unit and a utility vehicle. There are 15 volunteers.

The squad's annual budget is $296,000, Bader said. Most of the funding comes through billing patients' insurance companies. Patients are occasionally responsible for co-payments, he said.

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