Every year, it is the privilege of the president to award the annual President’s Award for outstanding service to PVA and the citizens of Pittsford. This year’s awardee has a special place in the history of our organization, extending more than 48 years. That’s because he has been an active member and supporter of PVA for all of that time. Yes, he is a founding member, first becoming involved in February, 1970.
After the death of a young girl who was struck on French Rd., the people involved waited for 45 minutes for an ambulance out of the city. As a result, a group of town leaders, including our honoree, decided that Pittsford needed a local ambulance service. The group persuaded the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs to pay for a survey of the citizens of Pittsford to determine if the people of Pittsford wanted a local ambulance service. The results were an outstanding mandate, and the Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance was started.
But, they had no funds. So they asked one of their group, our awardee, to chair a $100,000 fund drive so that they could get started. That is equivalent to $650,000 in today’s dollars. He did it within six months and they began to train 100 people in a 45 hour course. They bought our base at 40 Tobey Rd. for $30,000 and purchased a 1971 Cadillac ambulance.
They went into service on September 11, 1971. If you needed EMS, you called 385-2400, which was shared with the County Parks Department and later with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. The 911 Center did not happen for another 10 years.
The first day of service, no calls were received and the crews wondered if they had misjudged the need for a local ambulance. On the second day, the bell finally rang and the crew answered up for a call for a bloody nose. PVA was in business.
At first PVA had personnel rules that would not fly today. Women worked the day shifts, and men worked the evening and night shifts. Women were not allowed in the base after 9:00pm or before 6:00am. After a few years we began to allow married couples to work together on the overnights. Another few years and anyone trained could cover any shift. Sounds like they had a volunteer recruiting problem back then as well.
If you haven’t guessed by now, our President’s Award is being presented to Richard M. Beers, Sr. Dick is a founding member of PVA, transforming a nose bleed call to over 3000 calls per year. Over all of that time, Dick has been a doer. He has continuously served over 48 years, spending over 16,000 hours in such positions as Board Member, Driver, Medic, Dispatcher, and Trainer. If the job needed to be done, Dick was there to do it. He has performed selflessly and with distinction.
The PVA that Dick helped to organize has changed over the years, and continues to evolve. We have, along with other organizations, struggled to maintain a qualified volunteer pool. We have become dependent on 911 for our dispatching. And we continue to enhance our service, to include Advanced Life Support and strong community involvement. Times certainly have changed, but fortunately the dedicated people in our Corps have not.
Our motto is Skilled Hands, Cool Heads, Caring Hearts. Nobody has lived that culture more than Dick Beers. Dick, what a run. We are grateful for all you have done or PVA, and wish you a wonderful retirement from active ambulance service.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present this year’s President’s Award to Richard M. Beers, Sr.