A Brief History Of The Swansea Ambulance Corps
As recalled by Ernest DiBiasio
Recorded by Len Leonardo
1952 United American Veterans Post 46 of Swansea contacted a Veterans organization in New Bedford that was running a Volunteer Ambulance Service under the name of George Alden Ambulance about starting a Volunteer Ambulance Service in Swansea. The idea was ignited after Tony Casilli, a Swansea resident with a wife in labor, waited over 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive from Fall River to transport her to The Truesdale Hospital
The United Veterans Post 46 formed a search committee. They were: Dominic (Tony) Casilli, Roland Morais, Manuel Rebello, Joseph Orlando Sr, George Gabbour, Al Zahalbran, Albert Silvia, and other unknown members. This committee secured a donation of a used 1949 Packard Ambulance from the George Alden Volunteers thus Swansea had its first Ambulance.
1953 The Philanthropic Association of Swansea Inc., d/b/a The Swansea Ambulance Corps was chartered. Incorporators were: Dr. Kenneth Compton, Dominic Casilli, Rene Dufresne, Manuel Rebello, Alfred Tebreault, Joseph Orlando Sr, Alfred Silvia. Other persons that contributed to the Corps at that time were: Al Leshinski, Walter Urban, Frank Gallery, Sen. John Parker, Frank Silvia, John Carr, Ernie Carroll, and Al Cote.
1954 A hearse/ambulance was purchased from a funeral home in Attleboro for $800.00 to replace the worn-out Packard. This vehicle was used until 1958.
1955 A garage was built at 69 Louis Street in Swansea to house the ambulance.
1958 We purchased our first new ambulance, a 1958 Cadillac, at an ambulance show for $18,000. This ambulance was eventually replaced by another new Cadillac in 1964. These ambulances were financed by the Slade Ferry Bank where Dr. Compton was a board member. He pledged repayment to Slades Ferry if the Corps should fail. Funds were raised by all members of the Corps by annual door to door solicitation. Donations at that time were $4.00 per family.
1960 A drivers room and an office were added to the garage. The kitchen was moved from the basement to the back of the garage.
1963 A combination function room and classroom addition was built. Many fundraisers by the Women’s Auxiliary, parties, and other community gatherings were held there over the years. Great strides have been made in equipment and training. During these years the Corps was very fortunate to have a cadre of volunteers, too numerous to mention individually, that greatly enriched and expanded the Swansea Ambulance Corps.
The new headquarters of the Swansea Ambulance Corps was moved to a new building located on Wilbur Avenue. The original Ambulance Corps Building was donated to the Town of Swansea for use by the Swansea Council on Aging.
We added a Field Supervisor vehicle that is used by our most senior paramedics to respond to all emergencies.
We completed a large expansion of our headquarters on Wilbur Ave, adding two garage bays, doubling the size of our crew quarters and living area.