Founded in 1979, Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service (WVEMS) is a volunteer organization that provides staffing, supplies, and apparatus for the shoreline community of Westport, Connecticut. Our Volunteer teams work in a division of the Westport Police Department. WVEMS also educates thousands each year in CPR, as well as EMR or EMT certification classes.
Our crews are assigned shifts at our downtown ambulance headquarters, where they will remain on-duty until a call for service is dispatched. Our system of on-duty personnel allows individuals who do not live in town to be active members of our service. A large number of our volunteer members live in surrounding towns and communities.
When not on calls, members are able to enjoy their crew's company and relax in the living-room style accommodations.
WVEMS is always looking for new members to join us in “answering the call”. Please consider making a donation to keep our community safe. Our mission includes the purchase of the vehicles, equipment and supplies necessary to run the service.
If you’d like to stop by for a visit, we’d love to meet you! Please contact us to arrange a visit or to ask any questions.
Westport’s emergency medical services has a long and proud history dating back to the 1920s. Since 1979, volunteers have been at the forefront, saving countless lives and providing an invaluable service to our community.
24 hours a day, 365 days a year
There’s always a crew on duty at our station in downtown Westport.
Both town employees and volunteer staff work on the Westport ambulances. This is a unique model that has served us well. Crew Chiefs are of the same rank regardless of their pay status. Everyone, including volunteers, are held to the same training and performance standards.
Town paid staff members have administrative responsibilities in addition to their ambulance response duties, including: general administration, training, scheduling, maintenance and billing.
Depending on demand, we staff at least one (and up to three) ambulances at any given time. A Paramedic will respond to all calls in a fly-car or ambulance, and is typically the Crew Chief in charge of all personnel on the shift. Crews are made up of MRTs, EMT-Bs and other ALS certified crew members.
Our volunteer crews and bicycle teams provide coverage for special events including road races, 4th of July fireworks, the Memorial Parade and other special events throughout the year.
Crew members sign up for regular shift blocks. We have bunk room capacity for six crew members to support our overnight response.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions people have asked about Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service (WVEMS). Some questions may seem mundane, others, more serious. Please don’t hesitate to let us know and we’ll try to answer any inquiries you may have. You may also find answers in other sections of this website such as in the “Volunteer” section. We will update this page periodically.
I come from a big city and never heard of volunteers working on an ambulance. Now, I hear volunteers are essential to the service here and that the service is a division of the Police Department. How come?
Volunteer emergency medical services are common place across the country, particularly in smaller communities. Over the years, large urban areas have started using solely paid services.
Often, these services are run by hospitals, cities or local governments. EMS is sometimes part of a Fire Department. One of the biggest volunteer EMS is located in Virginia Beach. Grand Central Station has its own EMS—volunteer. Volunteer EMS services are particularly common in Connecticut and the Northeast. Our neighbors in Wilton, Weston, New Canaan and Easton also have volunteers working on their ambulances. Other nearby communities with population somewhat closer in size to Westport with EMS volunteers are Scarsdale and Greenwich.
Westport EMS was started by police officers which explains why the service is part of the Police Department.
What does the acronym WVEMS stand for?
Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service, Inc. WVEMS is a non-profit corporation, recognized as public charity under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code and licensed as such by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
What does the acronym EMS stand for?
Emergency Medical Service. This is a general term, often referring to a local 911 ambulance service, as opposed to a service specializing in non-urgent patient transfers between facilities. WEMS refers to Westport Emergency Medical Service.
Is there a difference between WVEMS and EMS in Westport?
Yes, but in fact, the ambulance service in Westport is better described as a joint venture. Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service’s (WVEMS) mission is to provide volunteers, equipment, vehicles and supplies to Westport Emergency Medical Service. Westport Emergency Medical Service is a division of the Westport Police Department and operates the service. WVEMS volunteers work for Westport EMS when they volunteer on the ambulance.
Does WVEMS have any paid employees?
No. Even our bookkeeping and fundraising are done by volunteers.
The Town of Westport pays 7 employees who work on the ambulance alongside the 100-120 volunteers who put in over 18,000 volunteer hours each year.
Do you pay for your volunteers’ meals while on duty? Who pays for their uniforms?
No. Our volunteers are responsible for their own meals while on duty. Volunteers receive a uniform allowance from WVEMS to cover the cost of uniform items.
Pizza or sandwiches dinners are provided to volunteers when attending the monthly “in service training.”
What’s different with Westport Volunteer EMS when compared to other volunteer EMS services in the area?
No two services or towns or regions are the same. WVEMS is probably the busiest volunteer service in the region. We handle 2,500 calls each year. While on shift duty, volunteers must be present at Headquarters. Some volunteers carry pager radios while in Town to answer third calls.
I am not a certified EMT and cannot work on the ambulance, but I’d like to do something to help out. How can I help you?
We have a few volunteers who have retired from serving on the ambulance and are now serving in an administrative capacity. There are some periodic additional needs for that type of service and to assist in fundraising. Please let us know and we can put your name on a list for these special projects.
You may become a CPR instructor. Please inquire about our CPR instructor training sessions. Providing public education in handling medical emergencies is part of our mission.
You can also help us by spreading our message with your friends and acquaintances. We need new volunteers and need financial support. Few understand what is involved in rendering a top -notch ambulance service in Westport, from volunteers to donations.
Are all your volunteers from Westport?
No. Many of our volunteers are from out of town. Some have a history of living in town previously, other simply like the idea of serving here because of our large call volume which provides them with an opportunity to maintain their skills.
Are your books audited?
Yes. An annual audit is conducted by the professional accounting firm of Capossela & Cohen.
You collect tax deductible donations, yet when I needed the ambulance, I received a bill from the Town of Westport. Why?
The Town of Westport has expenses to run the ambulance service in addition to what Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service provides. The Town of Westport sends invoices for ambulance services which are routinely covered by insurance. Examples of what the Town pays for are the salaries and benefits for the seven employees who work with the volunteers and the insurance on the vehicles.
What is your main source of revenue?
Donations from residents and local businesses.
What is your biggest expense?
Vehicles (3 ambulances and 3 fly cars). New equipment costs are getting close in range (each of our 4 heart monitors costs $30,000, each of our three stretchers: $13,000, each of our power loaders: $20,000). Also, the total sum spent on equipment and vehicle maintenance and basic EMS supplies reaches $55,000.00 annually.
Do you have any inspirational quotes by famous people that inspire you in what you do?
Next to creating a life, the finest thing a man can do is save one – Abraham Lincoln
And here is an excerpt from Ambulances by poet Philip Larkin:
Closed like confessionals, they thread
Loud loons of cities, giving back
None of the glances they absorb.
Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque,
They come to rest at any kerb:
All streets in time visited
Each year we have an awards event for our members and their families. We recognize all of our members and their contributions in the past year.
2017 Crew Chief of the Year - Jay Paretzky
This award is given to a crew chief who does a superior job of supervising, instructing and working with their crews.
2017 EMT of the Year - Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick
This award is give to an EMT that has shown outstanding performance, skill and knowledge as an EMT.
2017 Volunteer of the Year - Kathleen Lott Smith
This award is given to a volunteer member who during during the past year has made a meaningful contribution to the continued development and improvement of WVEMS.
2017 Youth Corps Member of the Year - Annika Lee Morgan
This award is given to a Youth Corps member who has shown outstanding performance, skill and knowledge.
The President's Volunteer Service Award
The President's Volunteer Service Award is the premier national volunteer awards program. Six of our volunteers have received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Each year, several of our volunteers receive the annual President's Volunteers Service Award in one of the three categories (Bronze, Silver and Gold).
Board of Directors
President: Yves Cantin
Vice President: Martin Iselin
Treasurer: Larry Kleinman
Secretary: Nancy Surace
Director: Jaime Bairaktaris
Director: Michael Burns
Director: Brian Crane
Director: Jake Healy
Director: Sandy MacPherson
Director: Andrea Harman
Director: Erin Finch