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Westerly Ambulance Corps celebrating 100 years of service

After 100 years of serving the community, volunteers and staff from the Westerly Ambulance Corps are celebrating being the oldest and longest operating ambulance corps in the country. (WJAR)

After 100 years of serving the community, volunteers and staff from the Westerly Ambulance Corps are celebrating being the oldest and longest operating ambulance corps in the country.

"I began volunteering when I was 14 years old in 1991,” Philip Gingerella, of Westerly Ambulance Corps told NBC 10 News Thursday. “(I) couldn't wait to get out of school, and come down to the ambulance corps, until your parents said, ‘You have to come home.’”

He and others are the faces behind decades of service.

"I started in 1965 as a 16-year-old, a young member, learning the ropes,” said William Gibney, a former commander and life member at Westerly Ambulance Corps.

With each emergency call comes the uncertainty of what kind of scene volunteers will encounter.

"There might have been some things that stick with you -- I probably shouldn't have seen back then,” said Gingerella.

Gingerella‘s talking about awful car crashes, which affect everyone, including first responders.

"And they're expected to get cleaned up, get their equipment back together and then go back out and handle more calls,” said Gingerella.

Many of the men and women who volunteer to come to the rescue.

"No call is too small for the ambulance corp to respond to,” said , Westerly Ambulance Corps Assistant Chief Michael Brancato.

"And we do see things that could be tough for someone to see, but someone needs to do it,” said Gingerella.

There are about 6,000 to 10,000 calls each year in the Westerly region. Volunteers come to the rescue, many without ever getting a paycheck.

"I've always worked for free,” said Gibney. “And it's just to give back to the community.”

A few are paid career staff, but most come in their own time.

"I think everybody here really wants to help people that are in need,” said Gibney.

It’s a group full of unwavering dedication and commitment

"Saving lives is a good job to have,” said Gingerella.

The Westerly Ambulance Corps will host open house at their headquarters on 30 Chestnut St. on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for prospective volunteers, as well as to celebrate the station’s success over the years. Anyone interested is invited to attend.

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