Stuff an Ambulance kicks of Weston EMS Week

Shot of last year's Stuff an Ambulance event.

Shot of last year’s Stuff an Ambulance event.

Weston Volunteer EMS is kicking off EMS Week with a return of the Stuff an Ambulance event at Weston Center this Saturday, May 16, beginning at 9 a.m.

Stuff an Ambulance is a food drive to benefit the Weston Food Pantry. The event was a huge success last year, managing to fill the ambulance one and a half times, and delivering more food to the food pantry than any single other event during the year, according to Betsy Peyreigne, who manages the Weston Food Pantry.

One of Weston’s two ambulances will be parked in front of the Weston Center area, and Weston EMTs and volunteers will be on hand to collect donations of food items. Checks and cash will also be collected, and all funds raised go directly to the Weston Food Pantry.

A list of items needed for donation may be found on Weston EMS’s Facebook page, facebook/Weston Volunteer EMS.

Additional EMTs will be stationed outside Peter’s Market with a shopping list of needed items. Shoppers going into Peter’s can pick up one of the shopping lists, add a few requested items to their regular purchases, and then drop off the items with the EMTs when they exit the market.

“The event was just such a wonderful success last year,” said Weston EMT Chris Bradbury, who organizes the event for the EMS squad. “We had people stopping at the ambulance all day long, dropping off hundreds of items.”

One family was quite memorable for Bradbury. “This small boy of perhaps 6 or 7 came up to me with a bag of groceries. He said, ‘Maybe someone my age is hungry, and he would want to eat what I would want to eat, so my mom let me pick some stuff out.’ The boy handed over a bag filled with children’s cereal and snacks and treats.”

The food drive comes at a vital time for the Food Pantry, Peyreigne said. “Our shelves are just about empty at this time of year. Donations really slow down in the summertime, as more people are away on vacations. We do get more donations around the holidays, but there’s a need all year long, so this drive really helps us get into the summer and have food on our shelves for those who really need it. … I couldn’t believe how much food an ambulance can hold, but it was so very much appreciated.”

Busy time

May is a very busy month for Weston EMS, above and beyond the Stuff an Ambulance food drive. Ten members of the squad were at the Westport/Weston YMCA the weekend of May 2 for a Hands for Life event that trained 450 people in the use of hands-only CPR and in how to use an AED, or automated external defibrillator.

Weston volunteer EMTs also worked this past weekend’s Special Olympics event, providing emergency medical services to those participating in and attending the event. And the EMTs will be on hand all weekend long at next weekend’s Memorial Day Fair.

“We’ll have two EMTs on hand from Friday night through Sunday afternoon, when the fair closes, just in case medical attention is required,” said Brianna Silvestri, who organizes Weston EMS staffing at events like the Special Olympics and the Memorial Day Fair. “It’s a lot of work, and takes a lot of effort on the part of our members, as we have to staff the events as well as be able to have crews in the ambulances in case we get another call in town, but it’s something that our members really enjoy,” she said.

Weston EMS is always looking for new volunteers, said Kristen Papen, EMS membership chairman. “We’re looking to run a new EMT class this fall,” she said.

The course is 200 hours, which prepares volunteers to take the state written and practical exams. Upon completion of the tests, members become state and nationally certified EMTs.

“We have shifts available at all times of the day and night, so we can pretty much work around anyone’s schedule,” Papen said.

Once certified, members become probationary members, serving for approximately one year with more experienced members and learning about ambulance operations and becoming more experienced in providing patient care.

For more information about volunteering with Weston Volunteer EMS, email [email protected] or ask any of the EMTs who will be working the Stuff an Ambulance event this coming Saturday, from 9 to 5 at Weston Center.

Requested food drive items

Pancake mix and syrup, cold cereal, shelf-stable milk, oatmeal (prefer box with individual packets), dried fruit and raisins, non-refrigerated juice, canned fruit, applesauce, peanut butter and jelly, tunafish and mayonnaise, pasta and sauce, canned hearty soups, salad dressings, ketchup and mustard, instant potatoes, rice and beans, hamburger and tuna helper mixes.

Hygiene products

Toothpaste and toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner, bar soap, deodorant (men’s and women’s), shaving creme, disposable razors (men’s and women’s), toilet paper, tissues, pump hand soap, cleaning supplies, laundry soap, bleach, dish soap, all-purpose spray cleaner, paper towels, Comet or Ajax, pet food (canned cat food, cat kibbles, canned dog food, dog kibbles).

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