"It's like a phoenix rising from the ashes," said Barbara Brown-Lax, president of the ambulance corps."We really need new members to come and keep the doors open," said Mark Ramos, a 21-year-old volunteer in charge of membership along with Brown-Lax.The group was formed in 1973 after it took an ambulance 45 minutes to respond to a child struck by a car in the area.Besides serving the communities in its name, the organization also takes calls from Bellerose Village and Floral Park on Long Island, according to Ramos. Since the blaze broke out in the basement of the ambulance's headquarters at 235-01 Braddock Ave. in Queens Village back on Feb. 21, 2003, the group has only been able to answer calls from EMS because they did not have a base of operations, according to Francis Jankowski, the recording secretary of the corps. "I don't want the community to lose the ambulance corps they created," said Ramos, noting that some in the neighborhood were not sure if the organization was still in existence after the fire. "It really bothers me that they don't notice us more," he said.The ambulance has been responding to about 1,000 calls per year since the fire. But Jankowski said the group "did much more than that" before the blaze."It was hard without a building," Brown-Lax said, noting that the ambulances now sit throughout the neighborhood waiting for calls. The group also shared space at the headquarters of the Jamaica Estates-Holliswood-South Bayside Volunteer Ambulance Corps and had a trailer on Braddock Avenue for some stretches of time after the fire. The construction of the new headquarters, located at the same address as the one damaged in the fire, is complete with the exception of a few cosmetic renovations and the group is still waiting for the city to issue the certificate of occupancy, according to Jankowski and Brown-Lax. The group "has no idea" when they will be able to move into the new building, Jankowski said.Of the 31 members of the volunteer ambulance, only two belong to the youth squad Ð15-17 year-old volunteers who receive CPR training, learn how to become dispatchers, help with fund-raising and keep the ambulances stockedÐ according to Ramos and Brown-Lax. He said he is looking to increase that number for when the group moves into the new headquarters"I need people to come answer the phones," he said. If you would like to become a volunteer for the Queens Village-Hollis-Bellerose Volunteer Ambulance Corps., write to: Queens Village-Hollis-Bellerose Volunteer Ambulance Corps., 235-01 Braddock Ave., Queens Village, NY 11428 Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173
©2006 Community News Group
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