Many volunteer ambulance corps across New York State are facing a volunteer shortage. Because of that, some corps say their volunteers are working extra hours to save lives. Such is the case of the Cazenovia Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps, where members say they have need to fill a few specific positions.
Rick Macheda has been with CAVAC for more than 35 years, and today serves as chief of operations. He knows quite a bit about long hours, sacrifices, and making life-saving efforts.
“I enjoy giving back to our community. When you bring back someone, someone’s life, or delivering a baby or just something as simple as bandaging a wound. It’s very fulfilling,” said Macheda.
He's an EMT, but also finds himself driving an ambulance regularly. He oversees roughly 100 volunteer members here. Similar to other statewide volunteer corps, there is a significant need for help. CAVAC is specifically in need of drivers and crew coordinators.
“Sometimes we’re taxed. Sometimes some of the guys give way more than their two shifts a month. Some of them running every night. Some of them run every day during the day. But yeah, we need drivers and crew coordinators,” he said.
Looking at 2022, CAVAC volunteers responded to a little more than 1,100 calls. Macheda says its the highest number they’ve had since 2010. Officials said the department logged more than an estimated 15,000 hours serving the community in 2022.
“We lost a few members during the pandemic,” said CAVAC President Sara Mitchell.
Mitchell has been with CAVAC for more than 40 years. She said, thankfully, a group of students from Cazenovia High School have helped with short-staffing. However, times continue to be tough.
“People in today’s world [are] very busy. We have parents who have kids who are in many many activities. They don’t have the time to devote to a volunteer organization such as this,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell said training is offered and volunteers can sign up for as little a few six hour shifts a month. Whether it's driving ambulances, answering calls, or administering CPR, there’s no better feeling than to be involved with a lifesaving effort.
“When you’re meeting somebody on what’s potentially the worst day of their lives, and you have the opportunity to bring a good conclusion to that worst opportunity, that’s a very fulfilling thing,” said Mitchell.
CAVAC officials don’t believe the closure of Cazenovia College next year should greatly impact their volunteers. However, they said they would like to see more people from the community get involved.
To learn more you can visit CAVACAmbulance.org.