Top-Notch Squads Like Narberth Ambulance Are On Call 24/7December 10, 2019
Chis Flanagan (left) chief of operations at Narberth Ambulance and David Zaslow, president and assistant chief of operations, at a 75 anniversary banquet for the company.
LOWER MERION — Three-quarters of a century ago, an organization formed in the Borough of Narberth to help transport members of the military to places they needed to be. That was during the closing years of World War II.
After the war, the organization continued to grow, and 75 years later, Narberth Ambulance has become the primary paramedic and emergency transportation service for five municipalities in two counties.
Recently, members of the Volunteer Medical Service Corp of Lower Merion and Narberth took some time to celebrate that 75th anniversary. They also recognized a couple of members who have been serving the community as members of Narberth Ambulance 35 years.
During the recent anniversary banquet, members recognized the over three decades of service of David Zaslow and Chris Flanagan. Zaslow is president and assistant chief of operations. Flanagan is the chief of operations.
In those early years of the company, the police were often the ones that transported an emergency case to the hospital in what is called scoop-and-swoop or load-and-go. The ambulance company would be there as a backup.
According to Zaslow, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Emergency Medical Services as an industry started to grow.
As the field of EMS grew, Narberth Ambulance began getting more involved. Overtime, paramedics and emergency medical technicians were trained. Later, the police stepped aside from that scoop-and-swoop role and made way for Narberth Ambulance to treat people at the scene and to transport.
As its name indicated, the company first operated from the Borough of Narberth at its location at 75 Haverford Avenue.
Zaslow said throughout the 1980s, the company continued to get more advanced and brought on its first paramedic in 1983.
At about the same time, both the borough and Lower Merion Township contracted with Narberth Ambulance to be its primary emergency paramedic provider.
“So for the past 36, 37 years, Narberth Ambulance has been the sole provider of its pre-hospital emergency medical care and transpiration in Lower Merion and Narberth,” Zaslow said.
Today, Narberth Ambulance covers all of Lower Merion, Narberth, Conshohocken, West Conshohocken and Haverford Township.
Zaslow said with its 40 fulltime paramedics and about 70 volunteers, the company answers about 10,000 emergency 911 calls each year.
Chris Flanagan, chief of operations at Narberth Ambulance, began with the company 35 years ago.
Since he lived near the company headquarters, he became interested when he saw just how busy they were.
“I became enthralled with the amount of call volume and the excitement and being part of the lifesaving team at the ambulance company,” Flanagan recalled. “They were covering all of Lower Merion and Narberth Borough, and it was very challenging.”
Flanagan said over the years, the ambulance company continued to grow and get stronger each year.
“Every one of those 75 years was a building block to get us where we are today,” Flanagan said.
As the company moves into the future, Flanagan said, there are new challenges. One of those challenges is the larger service area, but at the same time, Flanagan said it also makes them stronger.
In those expansions into new communities, Flanagan said the towns wanted to team up with Narberth Ambulance because of the people that have been members of the company.
He called the people of Narberth Ambulance the recipe for their success. That success, he said, has come from the investment Narberth makes in its members.
“Whether it’s a new person or a senior person, everyone wants Narberth to do better. We are a family that helps protect other people’s families,” Flanagan said.
Today, Narberth Ambulance operates out of a facility at 101 Sibley Ave. in Ardmore.
Al Davey, executive director at Narberth Ambulance, also reflected on the origins and the decades of service.
“For an ambulance that came into being, simply by returning soldiers from the Philadelphia ports during World War II to the Main Line, Narberth Ambulance and its dedicated members have committed 75 years advancing pre-hospital care to the community,” Davey said.
Davey also commented on the strengths of the company.
“The strength of this organization is that our balance of clinical excellence, administrative restraint, and operational efficiency creates the best environment for both career and volunteer staff to help move the mission of great EMS delivery forward,” he said. “Narberth Ambulance has expanded in both size and success with dedicated volunteers like Chief Flanagan and President Zaslow.”