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28 Walnut Street
Madison, NJ 07940 (map)
LOOKING BACK COLUMN
MADISON VOLUNTEER AMBULANCE CORPS
The Madison Volunteer Ambulance Corps had its beginnings as a chapter of the American Red Cross which was chartered on May 16, 1917 and consisted of 30 ladies who met three times a week to gather supplies for the soldiers as a World War I project. A flu epidemic broke out in 1918, closing many buildings and businesses, and limiting public services. So many residents fell ill that Red Cross volunteers transformed the Main Street YMCA into an emergency hospital.
By 1921, the Chapter had sponsored Public Health Nursing, Life Saving instruction and Motor Service transportation. As the population grew it became obvious that emergency medical services were needed. An antiques auction was planned by the Red Cross volunteers in May of 1942 to raise funds to buy a new am- Madison Red Cross Motor Corpsbulance to replace an old station wagon. Unfortunately, war- time gas rationing and rainy weather kept people away and the large quantity of unsold goods was kept in a store on Waverly Place which ultimately became the Madison Thrift Shop. It became so successful that in 1944 they were able to give the Motor Corps an ambulance and $1000 for maintenance.
The Executive Committee of the Red Cross met in March of 1954 to deal with some of the problems the Motor Corps was experiencing: difficulty in housing the ambulance, and no insurance coverage for the assisting police officers. It was decided that Madison needed an independent squad that didn’t need to rely on the Red Cross. Adele Corbett headed the committee, she and her husband Joe worked tirelessly to get support from Madison citizens. Local businessmen took part, with Sam Gordon heading the fundraising campaign to raise $5000. Flyers were prepared and when it came time to mail them, Sam stood at the front of his store and asked housewives if they had a few minutes to spare to help the Ambulance Corps. Many of them agreed and were sent to the basement to fold and stuff envelopes.
Public Health Nurse Marsa Koerner recruited seven nurses to join the Ambulance Corps. Dr. Atkinson contacted five local doctors who met on June 28 to make a list of items needed to make up a doctor’s kit. They were also recruited to give medical advice and be on call if needed.
The first regular meeting of the Ambulance Corps was held June 24, 1954 in the Municipal Building. A gentlemen’s agreement allowed the Corps to serve the same area as the Madison Red Cross since each fulfilled a different need. The ambulance was housed in DellaVecchia’s garage on Central Avenue until August of 1954 when the Corps was given permission to house the ambulance in the Municipal Building.
As the years passed, it became obvious that the Corps needed a headquarters of its own. After several sites were considered, Geraldine Dodge generously donated property on Prospect Street adjacent to the municipal parking lot. Ground was broken for the new building in 1962; 95% of the construction was done voluntarily by local construction workers and craftsmen. The building was dedicated in May, 1963 and the first meeting held in the new headquarters on June 13, 1963. In 1965, Ms. Sally Barylick, a 53 year veteran of the Corps, delivered its first baby, an 8 pound baby boy!
Researched and written by Staff Assistant Helene Corlett