History

History of Delmar-Bethlehem EMS

Early History

The Delmar Fire Department Rescue Squad was organized in 1939.  The squad’s first ambulance was a converted 1934 Packard hearse, donated by Peter Applebee.  At the time there were only two other ambulances in Albany County.  The squad’s next ambulance was a 1948 Packard. In 1960, a Cadillac ambulance was received, again a gift from Mr. Applebee.  At that time the rescue squad answered approximately 20 calls per month.

In 1956, a small group of people met at the Bethlehem Grange to found the Bethlehem Volunteer Ambulance Service.  The first ambulance was purchased with 12,000 books of green stamps.   The ambulance was housed in the Selkirk firehouse and rotated to the Glenmont firehouse and South Bethlehem firehouse on a weekly basis, until moving to the current ambulance building at 1121 Route 9W.  The ambulance squad grew to have three ambulances and more than forty members.

The Delmar Fire Department Paramedics were among the first paramedics in Albany County and in the late 1970s brought advanced life support care to the Town of Bethlehem.

The 2000s

In 2009 the Delmar Rescue Squad was spun off from the Delmar Fire Department and the Delmar Volunteer Ambulance Service was formed.  The ambulance service and fire department worked closely together, sharing many members and continuing to be co-located in the Delmar Fire Stations.  The ambulance squad grew to more than fifty members and had four ambulances.  The Delmar Volunteer Ambulance Service was named the 2012 Agency of the Year for the Hudson-Mohawk Region.

In January 2013, Bethlehem Volunteer Ambulance Service and Delmar Volunteer Ambulance Service integrated their operations and announced their intention to merge the corporations and become Delmar-Bethlehem EMS.  The merger was completed in early 2014.

Today

Delmar-Bethlehem EMS (DBEMS) is a volunteer-led not-for-profit community-based corporation that works in partnership with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office EMS Unit to provide ambulance service for the Town of Bethlehem and part of the Town of New Scotland.  DBEMS uses both volunteer and paid responders to serve the community.  DBEMS responded to more than 3,800 calls in 2018.

DBEMS is predominantly volunteer from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am every night.  Approximately 75 volunteer EMTs, Advanced EMTs, paramedics, and ambulance drivers respond to calls for medical assistance.  The volunteers put in more than 15,000 hours during 2018 and more than 100,000 hours over the last six years.

Upon the closure of the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service in 2017, DBEMS offered to merge with the VAAS and give a new home to the members of VAAS so they could continue as volunteer EMTs. The merger was completed in 2018.

Our red, gold, and purple ambulances were all rebranded in 2018 to DBEMS Blue.

DBEMS also has an innovative relationship with Sabic Innovative Plastics, which has an ambulance squad of its own at their Selkirk business location.  Through a unique partnership, the Sabic EMTs volunteer to staff a DBEMS ambulance for a 12-hour shift each week, providing service to the community.

DBEMS has two ambulance stations – one in the north end of the Town and one in the south.  On May 19, 2019 DBEMS dedicated the new North Ambulance Station at 114 Adams Street, which was constructed by the Town of Bethlehem.

Being the product of the merger of three different agencies, DBEMS has also demonstrated that proud not-not-for profit agencies can come together as one to create a stronger future.  Three agencies with great histories are now one proud and successful agency.

Delmar-Bethlehem EMS was recently named the 2018 Agency of the Year for the six-county Hudson-Mohawk Region.