Southeast Brooklyn has many volunteer opportunities available to its residents, from picking up trash in Canarsie Park and doing crafts with children at the Mill Basin Library to planting flowers at the Marine Park Salt Marsh. But there’s one local volunteer opportunity that’s unlike all the rest.
The Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance and First Aid Corps (FVAC) is a volunteer-run ambulance service that responds to emergency medical calls — and it’s looking for more members.
Currently, FVAC has around 30 volunteers, allowing it to run relatively consistent shifts seven nights a week, plus shifts on Thursday mornings and Saturdays and Sundays. In order to expand to 24/7 service, as is the goal, the organization needs new members to take up the call to action.
“That’s similar to other organizations around the city. There are a number of active volunteer organizations around the city, and they’re all having the same problem, just attracting and retaining members,” decades-long FVAC volunteer Joe Auerbach told the Canarsie Courier. “We’re trying to get more consistent because that’s one thing we hear. I go out into the neighborhood, and they say, ‘We called you and you weren’t there,’ which does happen if you don’t get enough active members.”
FVAC responds to emergency calls, performs first aid, supports the city’s ambulances when needed and conducts wellness checks.
To join FVAC, visit FVAC.org. Go to the Membership tab, click “Become a Member” and fill out the form. Volunteers aren’t required to have any medical experience, though a driver’s license is necessary.
Once the form is reviewed and accepted, applicants go through dispatcher training. The dispatcher works out of the FVAC base at 4623 Avenue N fielding calls. After that training is complete, the volunteer goes through attendant training by riding in the ambulance and learning from experienced volunteers. An attendant must be proficient in various skills, including administering oxygen, splinting, moving patients around on stretchers and more. The highest-ranking member on each shift is the crew chief. All new members go through the same training, regardless of whether they are already certified by the city or state as an emergency medical technician or a paramedic.
Interested residents are encouraged to apply, as more volunteers mean the community can be better served.
“I just find it a very rewarding type of way to be able to spend my time,” Auerbach said. “I’ve always said, as long as I’m the one pushing the stretcher and not the one on it, it’s a good day.”
If you need medical attention, you can reach FVAC at 718-338-0444.