The Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service (WVAS) is having trouble raising funds for its new emergency vehicle, with only seven people contributing to their online campaign since its creation one month ago.
The funds will go toward buying equipment for the new vehicle, which was bought with a 2013 grant from the Women’s Club of Malba. Although the campaign has 135 Facebook shares, only $175 has been raised out of the $20,000 needed to buy a list of 40 different pieces of equipment, including a stretcher, oxygen masks and an oxygen tank.
“It’s disappointing that no one’s really come forward yet, but this has been a trend that we’ve been seeing in the past few years,” said Jason Fassler, director of public relations for the WVAS. “People aren’t really donating.”
Fassler said that it is only in the most recent years that the volunteer organization has had trouble collecting donations, and that WVAS once had so much community funding they could buy a new ambulance every three years. Now, the company is struggling to continue providing all the services it has traditionally performed in Whitestone.
Difficulty outfitting a new ambulance is just one of the problems that has arisen from the lack of donations to WVAS. According to Fassler, the youth volunteer squad has had to shut down because it cannot afford to pay the yearly insurance, and the organization may not be able to provide non-emergency care to Whitestone residents in the future.
Assemblyman Ed Braunstein’s office has contributed some help to the WVAS in the form of the $125,000 capital grant, but these funds still are going through the approval process.
“Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance provides free emergency response services to anyone in the community who is in need,” Braunstein said. “A donation to their cause will help all of us continue to have the peace of mind that in the event of an emergency, help is never far away.”
Alfredo Centola, president of the We Love Whitestone civic group, said that the community needs to be responsible for supporting local ambulance services, and that he has heard of other such volunteer organizations with funding trouble.
“People need to realize that these local ambulances provide a lot of services,” Centola said. “A part of it is people aren’t aware of their existence and what they do and don’t do.”
The Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service was established in 1947, and currently has a roster of 75 volunteer emergency medical technicians, drivers and dispatchers to answer 115 calls per month. It can be used by residents at no charge for emergency medical care and transportation through a 24-hour hotline, and also transports community members to and from medical facilities in non-emergency situations.