Blooming Grove EMT Gil Davidson Gives Lifetime of Service
By Eugenia Moskowitz
When Gil Davidson joined the Bethany fire and first aid service back in 1971 in Connecticut, he never thought he’d end up at Blooming Grove Ambulance. But the local area BG Ambulance serves is very similar to Bethany, he said, “Especially when I first came here in the 80s.”
On the cusp of retiring after over 46 years of service, he said, “Bethany then was a lot like Campbell Hall today,” and his current home on Ridge Road reminds him of the place he started out, where one of the first things he did was separate the Bethany ambulance from that area’s fire department, so that each could properly grow. In 1972, he took an EMT course at Yale Hospital in New Haven, and then moved to Staten Island. “I then went to a U.S. Army hospital in Iran, back when Iran was open and friendly, very modern, and I did the ‘field medic’ kinds of things you can’t do on American soil, stuff that really taught me a lot about trauma management in the pre-hospital setting.”
Back in the U.S., he moved from Staten Island and came to Blooming Grove Ambulance in 1984, when the ambulance building was much smaller, just one story with two bays for two vehicles. “We had about 350-400 calls a year back then,” he said, “whereas now we do about 1,700 per year.” The ambulance saw a steady stream of more and more volunteers in the 80s, he said, many of them women. “But then in the 90s, membership dropped as many of the women went to work. That’s when the ambulance had to start paying EMTs. We had county-wide paramedics back then from Newburgh and Middletown who would meet up with us along the highway as we went to the hospital, but then eleven years ago we got approved from the county to have paid paramedics. We were the first to hire paid medics, and our prototype served as the model for other town ambulance services to follow suit.”The ambulance building then added a second floor with a dedicated paramedic room as well as more room downstairs for three vehicles.
During his time at BG Ambulance, Davidson has been membership chair, president, and occasionally served as chairman of the board. He has been a constant member of the board of directors and will still serve in that position. “I loved what I did,” he said. “One of the best ways you can be a part of your community is to serve your community. You meet so many people, and you get to know so many aspects of the town. It’s also a good way for young people to get a taste of certain fields they may wish to go into, such as medicine, nursing, fire suppression, or law enforcement. Volunteering at the ambulance gives young people exposure to all of that, so they can see if any of those fields are for them.” Fellow corps member Dawn Gallagher Salka said “I will miss my partner of 11 years, and we wish you all the best.” Davidson had been sent on 3,199 calls during his time with the corps.
“Blooming Grove Ambulance is always open,” Davidson said. “We never close, since life never stops. To get involved, just come on in.”
CAPTION: Gil Davidson (second from right) was celebrated at his last shift at Blooming Grove Ambulance on Oct. 30 with (from l. to r.): Assistant Chief Paramedic Brian Brunet, Chief Paramedic Brian Bates, longtime partner Dawn Salka, and Davidson’s wife Susan. (Photo provided)
CAPTION 2: Gil and his daughter back when it all began.