Walter Detwiller’s son’s life was saved by a New Jersey ambulance service. When Walter later moved to Beacon and became a Beacon police officer and member of the Beacon Engine Company, he realized that the community would benefit from having its own ambulance service. He enlisted the help of Joe Catalano, George Cable, the members of the Beacon Fire Engine Company, and 29 volunteers to launch the Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps in 1958.
The first BVAC ambulance was a donated 1948 burned out Cadillac. After being refurbished by the members, it was housed at the Beacon Fire Engine Company where emergency calls were received. The facilities were soon outgrown and the Beacon Fire Engine Company secured the donation of an old two bay garage for the BVAC. This, too, was soon outgrown so volunteers and the local Navy Reserve Seabee Unit started construction on the current building in 1975. The present day BVAC headquarters at 1 Arquilla Drive was dedicated in May of 1980.
Initially there was no county dispatch system so various members had phones installed in their homes to receive emergency calls. They would then call volunteers to staff the ambulances. In 1980 The Beacon Police Department began dispatching the BVAC via the members’ new pagers. In 1984, BVAC joined the Dutchess County Bureau of Fire dispatch system, which is still used today.
BVAC services have evolved since its incorporation on April 16,1959.
- 1990 – became New York State Certified
- 1991 – became defibrillation certified
- 1996 – began providing complete advanced life support via contract providers
- Current fleet – 3 modern, fully equipped NYS certified ambulances; a first response vehicle; a mass casualty incident trailer; and a utility trailer for rescues within the vast mountainous terrain of the district
- 2,969 – number of calls dispatched to last year, making the BVAC one of the busiest volunteer services in the county