PRS provides emergency medical and rescue services to the village and town of Potsdam, the village of Norwood and parts of the towns of Pierrepont and Stockholm. Our service district covers an area of approximately 150 square miles with a population of 16,000+. Within our district we have two 4-year universities, Clarkson University and SUNY Potsdam with a combined enrollment of 7,000+ students. We also provide mutual-aid to neighboring communities as needed. We operate out of two stations, Station 1 at 29 Elm Street, Potsdam and Station 2 on Bernard Avenue, Norwood.
In the Summer of 1955 a handful of concerned Potsdam residents grouped together to form one of the first volunteer rescue squads in New York State. Their only piece of equipment was an E&J resuscitator that the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club had purchased a few years earlier but that no one had been trained to use. The resuscitator could provide artificial respiration for non-breathing patients, oxygen administration for breathing patients and had a suction catheter to assist with removal of airway obstructions. The men trained hard that summer so that they could be ready to provide standby coverage at Postwood Park in Hannawa Falls for fear of possible drownings.
The members received their first ambulance, a 1936 Buick, as a donation from a local funeral home. It was parked in squad member Frank Austin’s garage on Cottage Street.
By the Fall of 1955 the squad was ready to offer its services to the community. On October 1st, 1955 the Potsdam Volunteer Rescue Squad was officially organized. The squad answered its first call on October 5th for a man having a heart attack. Oxygen was administered and the patient was transported to Potsdam Hospital where he recovered. A request for help was made by calling the Hospital who would then make phone calls to the members who were covering for the day. Each day of the week was covered by a crew of 3-4 members who would be responsible for any calls during their shift.
The initial roster consisted of 23 members. Sanford Dewey was the Chief, with Andrew Rodger as Director, Ralph Lawrence as Assistant Chief and Everett (Bud) Spotswood as the Treasurer and Secretary.
With a rising call volume the squad purchased a second ambulance in October 1956, a 1950 Chevrolet.
In 1958 the squad’s Cottage Street headquarters was built through generous donations from the community and the sweat of the squad members who built it.
We currently have 50+ volunteers; a dedicated group consisting of local residents, students enrolled at the area universities and auxiliary members from neighboring emergency units. They are tasked with the responsibility of responding to a call volume that annually averages 1800+ responses. To assist in meeting the demand, in July 2004 we hired a full-time Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider for weekday daytime coverage. The decision was not made lightly, but was needed in order to continue to provide timely daytime response to our community. PVRS remains a volunteer driven agency and we are always in need of members of the community who may wish to volunteer.