The Lindenwood Volunteer Ambulance Corps was conceived in the basement of a 6-story apartment building in 1969. We were incorporated and began providing service in 1970. Initially, the response area was planned to be the small community of Lindenwood, with approximately 5,000 residents at the time. However, due to the lack of ambulance coverage in South Queens, LVAC’s founders had the foresight to include the surrounding communities of Ozone Park and South Ozone Park. In effect, in 1970, LVAC provided primary EMS response to an 8 square mile area that contained 22,000 residents.
At that time, New York City did not have an organized Emergency Medical Service. There were some hospital-based units and several community based volunteer ambulance and fire departments. Our communities were in dire need of our services. Even though New York City began work on a centralized, city based ambulance service in 1974, municipal ambulance service remained spotty in the outer boroughs throughout the 1980s. With the advent of NYC*EMS (which was made a division of the FDNY in 1995), membership decreased. During the 1970s and through the mid-1980s, LVAC boasted a membership of 150-200 volunteers. Currently, we operate with 40 volunteer members.
LVAC provides EMS service to the same communities that we were incorporated to help. However, the neighborhoods have changed over the years. As with the rest of New York City, the population we serve has increased dramatically. From the last census figures, our communities house nearly 40,000 residents. The ethnicity of our neighborhoods has also changed. Over the past 5-7 years, we have seen a large influx of immigrants from South America, Guyana, Jamaica, and India. As with any large immigrant group, there are a lot of people under-represented and who lack medical coverage and proper medical care. That is our new challenge, which we face on a daily basis.
All Lindenwood VAC personnel are volunteers, including the Chief and board members. We all take personal time to help our communities. During emergency situations, many of the employers of our members recognize the need for our services and let our members leave work, without loss of pay, to assist the community and our city. This has been true for the recent disasters, as well as blizzards and other adverse weather conditions. Our 40 members are always ready for action.