Avalon Rescue Squad

Since 1979, the Avalon Rescue Squad has provided emergency medical services to the people of Avalon.

By The Avalon History Center

"You Call, We Haul."

Before 1979, the Borough of Avalon’s medical emergencies were handled by the police department.


The police were reliable and efficient, but largely untrained – and many citizens were unsatisfied with the department’s response time and the transit time to the nearest hospital.

Police Chief Henry Armstrong, Unknown, 1925/1935, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Ice House Burning, Unknown, 1956-06-30, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Henry Armstrong, who served as Avalon police chief from the early 1920s to 1952 (left); A 1956 fire with the white police ambulance parked nearby (right).

Starting in January 1978, members of both the Avalon Chamber of Commerce and the Avalon Home and Land Owners Association (AHLOA) spearheaded a proposal to create a “rescue service unit” consisting of a volunteer force of a minimum twenty-one permanent residents.

Volunteer Rescue Squad List, Unknown, 1978, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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An early list of rescue squad volunteers.

At first, borough officials questioned the need for such an expense, but an increasing number of residents voiced support and volunteered for training. So, the borough agreed to the proposal, as long as funds could be raised through public contributions and enough trained personnel could be found.

The borough even agreed to turn over the three existing ambulances in use by the police department. From the late 1970s onwards, an assortment of vehicles has been used by the Avalon Rescue Squad.

Cadillac Ambulance, Unknown, 1980/1990, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Due to increasing ambulance regulations, medical services stopped using "car ambulances," like this Cadillac model used by the Avalon Rescue Squad in its early days.

'90s Rescue Squad Ambulances, Unknown, 1980/1999, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Two of the ambulances used by the Avalon Rescue Squad in the 1980s and 90s.

Avalon's Volunteers

By the end of summer 1978, Avalon had incorporated its own rescue squad, which was to be operational by the beginning of 1979.

Rescue Squad Jumpsuit (Front), S & H Uniforms, 1979/1985, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Rescue Squad Jumpsuit (Back), S & H Uniforms, 1979/1985, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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One of the jumpsuits worn by rescue squad volunteers from the late 1970s to the mid-80s.

EMS Vital Statistic Notepad (1978/1990) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

Following months of the preparation, training, and fundraising, the Avalon Rescue Squad finally answered their first call on the afternoon of June 25, 1979.


From then on, the rescue squad would expand and respond to the medical emergencies of Avalon residents and visitors.

From its incorporation until the mid-1980s, everything to do with the rescue squad was on a volunteer basis. This led to some innovative fundraising events, such as a 1980s baseball match against the Philadelphia Flyers.

'82 Rescue Squad Volunteers, Unknown, 1982/1983, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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'85 Rescue Squad Volunteers, Unknown, 1985, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Rescue Squad Tenth Anniversary, Unknown, 1989, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Jim Cox, Unknown, circa. 1982, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Shelley Tozer, Unknown, circa. 1985, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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The Avalon Rescue Squad benefited from many dedicated volunteers.

Artificial Respirator, Woodlets, Inc., 1979/1985, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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A Brook Airway artificial respirator used by the Avalon Rescue Squad.

A Professional Rescue Squad

During Mayor Rachel Sloan’s administration, it became evident that the rescue squad could no longer operate on a voluntary basis. After a particularly bad accident in the mid-1980s, Avalon began phasing in a full-time, 24-hour a day, paid professional rescue squad.

Former Rescue Squad Building (1986/2004) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

Mayor Sloan’s tenure also included the dedication of the rescue squad building in August 1986...

Rescue Squad Building Demolition (2004) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

... which was eventually demolished in mid-autumn of 2004 for the construction of an upgraded building.

Rescue Squad Ambulances (2009/2016) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

The new rescue squad facilities are located between the public safety and fire department buildings on Dune Drive.

Avalon Rescue Squad Chiefs

Since its incorporation in 1978, the Avalon Rescue Squad has had a total of eight chiefs:


Andy Siranca (1978-1979)
Wayne Dean (1979-1980)
John Fallon (1980-1981)
Kate Meyer (1981-1982)
Terry Ripp (1982-1983)
Carolyn O'Brien (1983-1994)
Tina Fuller (1994-1998)
Kevin Scarpa (1998-)

Katey Myers, Unknown, 1980/1983, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Carolyn Burbank O'Brien, Unknown, 1980/1983, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Tina G. Fuller, Unknown, 1980/1983, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Kevin Scarpa, Unknown, 1994, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Top row, left to right: Kate Myers, Carolyn O'Brien. Bottom row, left to right: Tina Fuller, Kevin Scarpa.

Today, Avalon’s rescue squad is an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) operating from ambulances with a staff of full-time and part-time emergency medical technicians. They provide emergency medical care in Avalon and neighboring communities.

Members of the rescue squad possess a variety of certifications - including first responder, emergency medical technician, and paramedic.

Rescue Squad Jacket (Front), Dyna Med, Inc., 1979/1985, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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One of the jackets worn by rescue squad volunteers from the late 1970s to the mid-80s.

Despite the Borough's shift to a full-time professional rescue squad, Avalon’s ambulances and equipment are still provided through donations made by the community.

In return, the Avalon Rescue Squad actively engages with the people of Avalon by offering public CPR and AED training, and volunteering their services for community events.

The Avalon History Center

Want to see more? Visit the Avalon History Center to explore our full exhibits in person!  

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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