The information provided below are excerpts from the Chili Fire Department Rescue Squad history book published by Keith Schwab, Rescue Squad Battalion Chief 1977, 1978, 1996 and 1997.

Most people don’t actually know when or where ambulance service first began. The French in the 1790′s used what they called an ambulance to move soldiers off the battlefield. They were also the first to “Triage” patients, a method of separating and sorting according to the seriousness of their injuries. Unfortunately for most of those early military personnel, first aid treatment didn’t actually begin until they reached a physician, often times way too late.

In 1863 the International Red Cross was formed to basically do the same thing the French were doing, move casualties from the battlefield. It wasn’t until a few years later when Clara Barton; founder of the American Red Cross was somewhat successful in providing more advanced medical treatment to military personnel during the American Civil War. z

Shortly after the turn of the century (1900′s), civilian ambulance services started becoming available in most major cities. These ambulances simply transported the sick and injured to the hospital, providing very little, if any medical treatment along the way.

It wasn’t until after World War II when basic patient care would actually start taking place in the back of an ambulance.

In the mid 1960′s, standards were developed for prehospital care, thus greatly improving the quality of emergency medical treatment and transportation for the general public. In the late seventies and early eighties, many ambulances in New York State were becoming New York State Certified. This meant ambulance services needed to meet the strict New York State Department of Health Guidelines (DOH).

Today, all ambulances in New York State are DOH certified and in many cases have Paramedics on board to provide advanced life support treatments while enroute to the hospital.

Chili Volunteer Ambulance History:

In Chili, it wasn’t until the fall of 1949 when a committee in charge of War Memorial funds decided to purchase a Chevy truck from the Barnard Fire Department already equipped as an ambulance.

This truck, (M-6) was given to the Chili Fire Department thus forming the Chili War Memorial Rescue Squad. The squad was comprised of 21 men led by Wilbur Marshall who served as the first Captain. The Chili War Memorial Rescue Squad committee was chaired by Clayton Ess with members: Howard Longbine, Wilbur Fox, Arnold Burkhart and Bernard Hart. These men were responsible for the rules, regulations and financial affairs of the squad.

In the first two years of service, M-6 answered 36 emergency calls. The truck was equipped with one wheeled stretcher and two folding stretchers that made it possible to transport up to 3 patients at one time. The truck also had an inhalator capable of administering oxygen to two patients, first aid supplies, splints, blankets and sheets. For assistance, residents called: Genesee 0337, Genesee 0238M or in Scottsville 140F22. Clayton Ess recalls: “When Sheriff Al Skinner heard that Chili had purchased the vehicle, he personally had it re-lettered for the fire department.”

On October 7th, 1953, the emergency car committee was officially dissolved. As a result, state legislation allowed the Chili Fire Department to form a 42 square mile Chili Ambulance District. In January of 1954, a dedication plaque made by JK Steeves Sr. (Chili Fire Department’s First Chief) was mounted on the emergency car recognizing the War Memorials involvement.

In June of 1955, Chief Victor Jensen had the members of the Rescue Squad reorganize and elected a Captain, Lieutenant and Secretary. The squad reported directly to the Chief of the fire department, who in turn would report to the Chili Fire Department Board of Directors as well as the Chili Town Board. In August of that same year, an axe, wrecking bar, two fire extinguishers, tool box and several rain coats were placed on the emergency car. Chili was also one of the first Rescue Squads in Monroe County to be equipped with a Porta-Power. The Porta-Power was a hand pump hydraulic tool used to free victims trapped in motor vehicle accidents. The Porta-Power was carried on Chili ambulances until the late 1980′s.

In 1956, the original emergency car was finally replaced with a new white Cadillac ambulance. With very few donations and no budget, the Town of Chili purchased this vehicle and sold it to the fire department for one dollar. The new ambulance was designated as A-8.

In 1958, Captain Vern Johnson announced that Chili would be replacing their portable oxygen with a new E & J unit. The E & J unit was able to ventilate a patient on demand or at the turn of a knob. The unit could also be used as a suction device.

Doctor Vito Laglia in 1959 donated his black doctors bag and it was placed on the ambulance. The bag included an ears, eyes, nose and throat diagnostic light, a small rubber hammer to check reflexes, a tuning folk to check hearing along with other first aid supplies.

In 1962, Chili Rescue Squad members Clayton Ess and Don Tesch met with Sam Mobilio from Scottsville and Ken Robinson from Churchville to discuss mutual aid agreements. By 1967, procedures went into place that basically stated that each town would cover calls for each other when their ambulances were unavailable. Spencerport and Gates Ambulance could be called at the discretion of the Chili Fire Department dispatcher. When ambulance A-8 was unable to respond and a call for oxygen was received, M-47 (grass fire truck) out of Company One would be sent until an ambulance arrived.

By the late 1960′s, Red Cross “Advanced First Aid” training was offered to the rescue squad membership. A new Superior Coach ambulance was purchased for $11,495. The red and white ambulance would be the signature color of the squad until 1979. In September of 1967, a rescue squad budget was submitted to the town requesting $7,025. The year end report noted that 473 calls for service were answered with approx 30 members. The report also mentioned the types of calls the ambulance responded to and ambulance mileage.

As the Chili Rescue Squad Ambulance progressed, many advancements in medical treatment and training would take place. Chili was one of the first rescue squads to purchase a CPR Anne. Battalion Chief Ted Kolb remembers that only rescue breathing was being taught at that time, CPR (chest compressions) had to be taught by a doctor. BC Kolb along with six other members were also the first to be trained as MET’s (Medical Emergency Technicians), the early version of the EMT program that exists today.

In 1970, two new Cadillac ambulances were purchased at a total cost of $28,000 dollars (A-8 and A-18). This was the first time Chili purchased two ambulances together. Membership was around 25 men who answered approx 600 calls. In 1971, Battalion Chief Miles suggested that the five overnight squads spend the night in the firehouse, not a very popular decision at the time.

In 1972, Don Strine was elected as the first rescue squad Board of Director. Dr. Laglia taught a CPR class hosted by the Chili Rescue Squad. BC Miles remembers aidmen from all over the area taking this class. Students had to perform CPR in the back of a moving ambulance and switch with their partner. All students had to take a written exam before they were fully certified.

During the late seventies, Chili was very active with several medical associations. In 1978, Chili joined Empire Nine, District 16 and the New York State Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association.

Battalion Chief Keith Schwab got approval to start the “Observer Program”. This program allowed perspective new members to see what the ambulance business was like before they actually made the decision to join. The seventies also saw a change in medical terminology. First aid was now “Emergency Medical Services”, victims were now referred to as “Patients”, Aidmen were known as “Medics”, Disasters were called “Mass Casualty Incidents”, the run report was called the “Patient Care Report” (PCR) and the Red Cross was replaced with the “Star of Life”.

As the seventies came to a close, new DOH (Department of Health) requirements were slowly fazing out the use of the Cadillac ambulances. In 1979, The Chili Rescue Squad purchased 2 Horton modular ambulances. These ambulances had more room in the back and allowed medical personnel to treat their patients more effectively. By the end of the seventies, the Chili Rescue Squad had 40 members and were responding to a little over 1000 calls.

In 1980, six members of the Chili Fire Department Rescue Squad attended a pilot program at St. Mary’s Hospital to be certified as Advanced level 2 EMT’s. Those men were Tom McNamara, John DeNome, Keith Schwab, Bob Steimer, Stu Sullivan and Dave DeGraff. When finished, students were certified in the use of the EOA, an advanced airway for respiratory arrests or medical 500’s (cardiac arrest). Chili was the only ambulance service to take this training west of the Genesee River.

In 1987, the “Special Duty” program was started. This program allowed individuals to be members of the Fire Department Rescue Squad without being firefighters first. Some of the first special duty firefighters were Ruth Jones (nurse), Lori Perrault, Bill Stockmaster (first aid instructor) and Judy Valleri.

On June 7th, 1995 the Chili Ambulance became NYS certified. This meant that the ambulance met all the basic requirements of the New York State Department of Health and that an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) had to be on every call. In 1996, semi automatic defibrillators were placed on both ambulances increasing the survivability of the sudden cardiac arrest patient.

With space a premium in the firehouses, the ambulance began looking for other quarters to house the rigs and the membership. In 2004, the Chili Volunteer Ambulance opened it’s new quarters located at 3320 Chili Ave. The building, which was the old Ray Sands glass business, was renovated to include a truck bay, training room, offices, kitchen, bunk rooms and living quarters for the membership. This would soon mark the end of an era, as the ambulances would no longer be housed in the fire stations.

In 2006, as a result of changes to the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements systems, many senior citizens were experiencing extremely high advanced life support bills. To assist the citizens of the Town of Chili, the Chili Fire Department Ambulance separated from the fire department forming a new organization, the Chili Volunteer Ambulance Service (CVAS). Although remaining a volunteer service, the new ambulance organization (CVAS) was able to start billing insurance companies for services, thus reducing out of pocket costs for those on fixed incomes.

Today, the Chili Volunteer Ambulance Service continues moving in a positive direction and is constantly looking for better ways to serve the community. Your volunteers, along with a small group of career staff employees work very hard to provide quality emergency medical services to your neighbors, friends and family.

In 2017, Chili Ambulance merged with Henrietta Ambulance and Scottsville Rescue
Squad. The merger allows the personnel and vehicles from all three agencies to respond to EMS calls in all three towns. The newly formed agency operates under the name CHS Mobile Integrated Healthcare.

Together we all can make a difference…..


Emergency: 911
Phone: (585) 334-4190
Fax: (585) 334-8172

Chili Station
3320 Chili Ave
Rochester, NY 14624

CHS Health Care Headquarters
280 Calkins Rd
Rochester, NY 14623

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