Nearby Services Rally to Help Woodstown (NJ) Ambulance Recover from Devastating Fire

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A month after blaze, new Aladtec, Inc. customer still searching for long-term home. Contributions being accepted through local bank, GoFundMe website.

Former Woodstown Ambulance facility

'We just need a space that we can make ours, rather than using other peoples' facilities' -- Director Ryan Segrest

Neighboring EMS agencies loaned ambulances and donated supplies to help the 47-member Woodstown Ambulance Service quickly return to service after a Feb. 19th fire destroyed its main station, and consumed five of its six ambulances.

Some of the help came from agencies who are subscribers to Aladtec's scheduling and workforce management program. Woodstown also recently contracted to use Aladtec for its scheduling needs.

The fire was discovered around 4 a.m. on the opposite end of the building from where on-duty medics were sleeping, according to a Feb. 20 story published by NJ.com.

EMTs Lauren Conrad and Rebecca Roberts told ABC affiliate WPVI-TV that they were roused by a firefighter partner who smelled smoke, discovered the fire and told everyone to evacuate. Firefighters from Reliance Fire Co. of Woodstown and several other departments responded.

Oxygen tanks could be heard exploding in live Facebook video provided WPVI-TV by an onlooker.

The blaze was declared under control around 6 a.m. but the building and its contents were a total loss. The losses were estimated at about $2 million.

Woodstown, a community of about 2,500 people, is located 58 miles west of Atlantic City and about 35 miles southeast of Philadelphia.

Woodstown Ambulance Service provides EMS coverage for Woodstown Borough and Pilesgrove Township, in conjunction with Salem City and other municipalities.

Neighboring Gloucester County EMS -- another Aladtec customer -- immediately shifted an ambulance to Woodstown to provide coverage as local officials formulated a short-term plan, said operations manager and EMS Chief Andy Lovell.

An editorial in the South Jersey Times opined after the fire, "...Gloucester County EMS has been the prime model of shared emergency medical services. It has amassed 34 ambulances and other support vehicles, operates from 13 locations, and can put 200 staff members on the street.

"The Woodstown squad, facing the same kind of challenges as New Jersey's other once-volunteer ambulance providers, switched in 2014 to a primarily paid-employee service. Whatever is ahead, we expect that the headquarters rebuilding and equipment replacement can return this proud association to full strength."

The association was founded in 1954 by American Legion members.

Immediately after the fire, Woodstown had just one remaining ambulance, which was stationed in nearby Salem when the blaze broke out.

Elmer Ambulance service, nine miles away, loaned a spare ambulance as did Laurel Lake Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company.

Borough officials in Newfield, 19 miles to the southeast, gifted Woodstown with an older ambulance which had been removed from service after Newfield Ambulance Corps joined the Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service last year.

The old rig had been shifted to the local fire department to keep it in town, Mayor Don Sullivan told the Vineland (NJ) Daily Journal, noting that the vehicle was no longer used for emergency responses.

“We don’t need the ambulance,” the mayor said. “It’s the right thing to do. Help your neighbor.” Fire Chief Mike Carlino delivered the rig to the ambulance association.

Woodstown Ambulance is still sorting out options, including whether it will rebuild the station, said director Ryan Segrest.

The service has five ambulances fully stocked and back in service. They include the loaner from nearby Elmer as well as several leased vehicles from the dealer whom they've purchased from in the past.

"We were back up and fully operational within 12 hours, (through) the generosity of other services loaning ambulances from the neighboring towns, so we were able to make sure our crews were able to come to work, which was pretty amazing in and of itself," said Segrest.

"Right now we're still investigating, weighing all our options as far as the building goes as to whether we want to rebuild, whether we can rebuild, whether it's feasible or whether we should check out other existing structures," Segrest said.

Woodstown has set up temporary headquarters at its second station in Salem City, about 10 minutes away. Segrest said the building is small but "we had to make due with what we could."

"Our greatest need is just finding a space that will work for us, temporary of course, because we can't rebuild in a day. We just need a space that we can make ours, rather than using other peoples' facilities," Segrest said.

In days immediately following the fire, Segrest said the response was overwhelming.

"It was everywhere. People contacted us from as far north as Boston, as far south as Virginia, as far west as Ohio. It's been crazy. That first week, we were just getting phone calls non-stop, Facebook messages from people willing to donate and help out any way they can," he said.

An account for the rebuilding effort has also been established at a local bank in Woodstown. Contributions can be sent to: American Legion Ambulance Association Donation A/C, c/o Pennsville National Bank, 125A East Ave., Woodstown, NJ 08098.

A local volunteer also established a GoFundMe account shortly after the fire. Visit it here: https://www.gofundme.com/56875l4

Aladtec also has 38 other customers within 25 miles of Woodstown.

Those in New Jersey include the Harrison Township Fire District, Mullica Hill; the Gloucester County Emergency Response Center and Gloucester County EMS, Clayton; Cumberland County 9-1-1 and Upper Deerfield EMS, Bridgeton; Upper Deerfield EMS, Bridgeton; Rosenhayn Fire Rescue, Rosenhayn; Deptford Township EMS, Sicklerville, and Deptford Township Police Department, Deptford; Washington Township Ambulance and Rescue Association, Turnersville; Westville Fire Department, Westville; Monroe Township Ambulance and Rescue, Williamstown; Mount Ephraim EMS, Mount Ephraim; Laurel Springs Police Department, Laurel Springs; Beaver Brook Regional Fire Alliance, Haddon Heights; Buena EMS, Minotola; Haddon Fire Company, Haddonfield; and Bellmawr Fire, Bellmawr.

Nearby Pennsylvania Aladtec customers include Boothwyn Fire Company, Marcus Hook; Tinicum Township Fire Company, Essington; Eddystone Public Safety, Eddystone; Parkside Fire Company-EMS Division, Parkside; Aston Township Fire Department, Aston; Brookhaven Fire Company, Brookhaven; Ridley Township Police Department, Folsom; Norwood EMS, Norwood; Newtown Square Fire Co. No.1, Newtown Square; Swarthmore Fire & Protective Association, Swarthmore; Collingdale Fire Company #1, Darby; Media Fire Company No. 1, Media; the Concordville Fire Company, Concordville; Marple Township Ambulance Corp. and Broomall Fire Company, Broomall; the PennSTAR Flight Program, Philadelphia; Riddle ALSU, Wynnewood; VMSC of Lower Merion, Narberth Ambulance, Ardmore; and Goshen Fire Company, West Chester.

Across the border in Delaware, customers include University of Delaware ECU, Newark; and St. Francis Hospital EMS, Elsmere.

In nearby Maryland, the Cecil County Department of Emergency Services at Elkton also uses Aladtec.

Aladtec provides online employee scheduling and workforce management software for mission-critical agencies such as EMS, firefighters and law enforcement. The smart platform puts real-time staff scheduling, time and attendance in the palm of your hand. It tracks licensing and certifications, offers customizable forms and reporting and allows leaders and members to communicate instantly, saving time and money.

For more information or a free demonstration, visit http://www.aladtec.com

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