OGDENSBURG — Citing a strain on the current volunteers responding to calls, the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad is looking for new members.
OVRS Director of Operations Kenneth J. Gardner said that, on paper, the rescue squad has 43 volunteer members on staff. But COVID-19 has cut that number down to between 20 to 25, mainly due to Canadian members not being allowed to cross the border.
“Currently, we can continue to successfully and efficiently run the rescue squad,” said Gardner. “However, it does put a strain on the ones we do have because they will take double shifts or multiple days during the week. Many more than the 16 hours a month we ask a volunteer to put in.”
Gardner said that volunteer members are required to work 16 hours a month in order to stay in good standing with the rescue squad.
“If you divide 16 hours a month between the 40 some odd people its not a big strain. They can usually do one night or one day twice a month and we are usually fine,” he said.
In 2020, the OVRS saw a reduction in hours donated by its 43 volunteer members during the midst of the pandemic, and the OVRS had to increase its payroll for paid staff to ensure calls were covered. Earlier this year, Gardner had said that they had to hire additional staff in order to serve the public during the pandemic and that continues to impact the rescue squad.
“It’s definitely putting a strain on the number of volunteers we do have currently and we definitely are going to do a recruitment campaign again,” said Gardner.
The OVRS provides free uniforms and free training in CPR and emergency medical care, emergency vehicle operation, vehicle extrication, boat operation and scuba diving.
The OVRS is the primary EMS provider for the city, as well as the towns of Oswegatchie and Depeyster and the village of Heuvelton. The agency also provides advanced life support services, as well as mutual aid for the village and townships of Waddington, Morristown and Hammond, the townships of DeKalb and Macomb and the village of Rensselaer Falls.