The Suffolk Regional Emergency Medical Services Council has crowned the Patchogue Ambulance Company as its 2009 EMS Agency of the Year, an award it will present to the local group of volunteers Thursday evening.
Suffolk's REMCO acknowledges several agencies and EMS providers throughout the county each year as the top providers in their fields. The local ambulance company trumped ambulance agencies in Islip, Hampton Bays, Manorville and Holtsville for its crown.
Patchogue Ambulance Company Chairman John Rocco said he was proud of his group for their service recognition.
"We're not in this for accolades," he said. "We do our job, which is saving lives, and basically go about it in a quiet manner."
The local nonprofit agency was founded in 1934 and is one of the oldest community ambulance companies in the state, Rocco said. The company is comprised mainly of volunteers who answer about 2,500 calls per year, and serves the areas of Patchogue, Blue Point and portions of East Patchogue.
The Patchogue Ambulance Company has seen significant growth lately, with a 30 percent increase in volunteer members last year, according to Karl Klug, ex-chief and volunteer member of the group.
He added the agency has doubled the size of its ambulance fleet in the last five years, thanks to new headquarters at 336 W. Main St.
"It's not just the call volume, it's doing all the other stuff, like the training and the work details, that makes us a well-rounded organization," Klug said. "It is what I hope led to us being selected."
The group's volunteers are from various backgrounds, with many looking to start or further a career in the medical field, Rocco said.
"We have a relatively educated group of people who give their time to the community," he added.
Despite the recent surge in volunteer members, Rocco said the group is always in need of new people willing to help.
Those looking to volunteer must be physically fit to apply, Rocco said. After the application process, volunteers are taken on a 30-day ride-along as an observer and then made probationary members for one year as they work toward their Emergency Medical Technician Certification.