When Rescue was founded in April of 1973, many Americans hadn't even heard of a Paramedic yet. Funeral homes, with their unique hearses, were the most common method to transport someone laying down. After organizing and raising funds, an ambulance was delivered to our community in November of that year and the first calls for service were answered in December. At the start of our operation, Rescue was very proudly the only ambulance service in the county that ensured that a trained Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) was on every ambulance call. It would be almost thirty years before the State of New York made that a requirement for volunteer ambulance services. With Kenneth Depuy as our President and Peter Kane as the first Captain, we started our long journey of service. Our purpose as documented at the time of incorporation was “to render first aid service to residents and visitors of the Town of New Paltz, Ulster County, NY; to save life, relieve suffering of the injured, and promote safety in all its branches; assist in the transporting of the ill, injured, and infirm; and to give all aid possible in times of disaster.” This basic mission remains true to this day.
Our first station was on the SUNY New Paltz campus, where we would remain until 2001. SUNY students have been a vital part of Rescue since the beginning. Young college students join, eager to learn, and happy to help. In no time at all, they are driving ambulances and helping patients all on their own - giving back to our shared community. Part of the appeal has been the ability for students considering careers in healthcare to obtain direct patient care experience. Many many volunteers have gone to become Physicians, PAs, NPs, and Registered Nurses.
Rescue took a major step forward in providing quality emergency medical care in 1987 by having some of its members trained as Paramedics and upgrading to an Advanced Life Support (ALS) service. While EMTs are limited to basic first aid skills and a handful of medications, adding paramedics to the roster allows for Rescue to interpret EKGs, insert breathing tubes and provide over two dozen life saving medications through IVs and other means. At the time, there were exceedingly few Paramedics in the region. Almost forty years later, many communities in the Hudson Valley don’t have reliable ALS and Rescue is frequently called to neighboring communities with our paramedics. In 2014, faced with ever-increasing calls, we added a second paramedic-level ambulance 24 hours a day. That remains our current staffing minimum today. In 2022, crews responded to over 2,800 emergency calls, the most ever for the organization. In the Spring of 2023, we started adding BLS ambulances (EMTs without Paramedics) to some days to offset the large increase in calls outside of New Paltz and also to transport residents home from the hospital.