Throughout the 1970s, Wilton and many other suburban areas throughout the United States used the police as the primary responder to medical emergencies. Two designated police officers would respond to a medical call in a modified Cadillac hearse. With the emphasis on speed rather than patient care, any serious patient would simply be rushed to the hospital with, at best, an oxygen mask on his/her face. The police officers were rarely medically trained past knowing how to apply oxygen and how to
package the patient for a rapid transport.

Chief Robert Northcott and Sergeant Richard Barringer-early 1970’s

Chief Robert Northcott and Sergeant Richard
Barringer in the early 1970’s

In late August 1976, Wilton’s First Selectwoman Rosemarie Verrilli created the Wilton Ambulance Council and charged it with the task of finding a suitable system of emergency medical care for the town. The council was comprised of the Fire Chief, the Volunteer Fire Chief, the Police Chief, and interested prospective EMT, and its chairman, Jack Cahill.

The Wilton Ambulance Council convened the next month, September 1976, and determined there was a need for an ambulance corps. The council put a note in the Wilton Bulletin asking any persons interested in being a part of such corps to attend a meeting that October. The October meeting was well attended and soon officers were elected, members were trained, and an ambulance was purchased. By July 1st, 1977 the WIlton Volunteer Ambulance Corps began service to town residents and received its first call on July 4th to the town fireworks for someone with a possible broken leg. That one call has since turned into 1400 calls a year and the relatively meager base of volunteers has turned into upwards of 60 members.

The corps spent the late 70s acquainting itself to the task of emergency medical response. Eventually WVAC members found themselves with pagers and uniforms supplied by the town. Supplementing town funds were local businesses and supporters – some of which remain contributors to the organization today. These local funds went to the medical equipment such as oxygen and first aid kits.

By the early 80s, WVAC had asserted itself in the Wilton Community; when someone called 911 and had a medical emergency, within minutes they would see someone in a WVAC uniform with jumpkit in hand ready to save a life. True to its roots, WVAC continues today to encourage a community-based response. Called “Neighborhood Response,” members are encouraged to respond in their personal vehicles to serious calls that come in nearby. This additional tier in the response triad of Police, Fire, and EMS makes lifesaving interventions that much more available. WVAC continues to maintain a vibrant, dedicated base of volunteers that are ready to help out on moment’s notice.

WVAC remains, like its historical roots, intertwined in the Wilton community and still to this day is on call 24/7, 365 days a year.