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CWW Vol- Janet Dunn 20220124 1259 (LowRes).jpg

janet dunn

Westwood Volunteer AMbulance Corps

Editor's note:  This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

I volunteer with The Westwood Ambulance Corps.  We are helping other communities too – we do go and help out in Township, Hillsdale and River Vale and you know, the surrounding communities. We work with those other squads to make sure that there is an ambulance available in the area. We work on scheduling, alternating weekends, whatever we need to do, to make sure we take care of the residents.  It is far reaching. It's amazing how far volunteerism can go that you don't even know because you're affecting their families who may not live in town. We have a lot of elderly residents here in town and their sons and daughters live in Paramus or in Virginia or in Florida and we're taking care of their mom or dad. 


I got involved when one of the current members I have known for many years had come into the library asking if she could put up a recruiting poster. And she's like, you really should join, you really should join, and I was like, I don't know if I have what it takes to deal with traumas. When my kids were growing up, if they got cut or something I thought I was gonna pass out on the floor.  I said I don't know if I could do this and she's like, come on, come try it. I think you'll be good. You have the right personality, you know, you should come and try it. And I did and I really, really surprised myself. Because I'm not one that ever handled things like that very well. But when you're trained, you can absolutely be focused on your training, you're not thinking about oh there's so much blood or this poor person has a broken leg or you're not thinking about that. You're thinking about taking care of the patient and that's all.  Your training takes you there and then the rest of it is just gone.


It took me six years before I was ready for EMT school. I wasn't ready for EMT school. When I started I did learn to drive first. So then I became a driver and then they convinced me to go to EMT school and they said we'll help you, we'll tutor, we'll do group studies, we'll help you get through it, we'll let you practice with us. So there really is a great support system here. If you haven't been in school in 115 years and you don't think you know how to study, they'll help you through it. They'll give you advice. They'll give you tips, they'll study with you. They'll make sure you're ready for your exams. We're all really supportive of each other and encouraging everybody to go and get that extra training and say yes, you can do this. I know you don't think you can. 


We are encouraging EMTs obviously because you want to give the best care you can to these patients, sure. But we need to understand that some people just aren't ready.  It's an intensive training. It's five months, two nights a week plus weekends a lot of studying, a lot of exams, hands on practicals that you have to do and you have to pass and you get tested on. So it's intense. And it's a big commitment.


But, we also do a lot of social things and what we were doing together you know, it's not it's not just the doom and gloom of somebody having an emergency. You know, we do find some time to spend time together for fun.  Some of the crews get together and they go for breakfast at the start of their shift. Or they'll have lunch or coffee and we really enjoy spending time with each other. 


And you know, I give some of the new members that we have a lot of credit, because I think part of it is they've seen how hard we're working. And they're like, gee, you know, they need help, maybe I can join you know, because we got maybe six new members over the last two years I think since the pandemic. More recently we've got another six but over the course of the two years, and I think part of that was, you know, wanting to help seeing how bad it was seeing how desperate it was.  And they were trying to find a way to help.


Advice for other people wanting to volunteer in the community?  I was always looking for some way to be active in the community. I think it's important when someone moves into town to get involved or just go to all the events just to see what it's like and how much of a community because you run into everybody everywhere. I see people everywhere that are volunteers.  It's so gratifying to help other people no matter what you decide to do if you're going to be a scout leader help out at the school. You know, when I was working in with the school, like the smiles on the kids faces like how can you not want to see that and make yourself like a little happy place every day or once a week? Or, you know, just give yourself a little joy by helping somebody out wherever it is because people are so appreciative.


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