Former Bayside Ambulance Corps looks ahead to 70th anniversary serving the community of Bayside

The Bayside Volunteer Ambulance Corps, now known as the BVAC Rescue Response Training Center is set to celebrate 70 years next year.
Christopher Capo

Approaching a milestone 70th anniversary in Bayside next year, the organization formerly known as the Bayside Volunteer Ambulance Corps, now known as the BVAC Rescue Response Training Center, commemorates its rich history since its inception in 1955.

This spring, the organization is set to host a commemorative event at their headquarters located at 214-29 42nd Avenue, celebrating 69 years of service, with an eye towards a grand 70th anniversary celebration the following summer.

Originally established as an ambulance service for Bayside and its neighboring communities, the corps faced challenges in 2016 when a decline in donations and volunteers led to the loss of their ambulance license. In response to these challenges, the organization pivoted in 2019, transforming into a training center that offers a variety of courses including CPR, advanced first aid, and emergency response strategies, among others.

Christopher Capo, the current president of the organization whose grandfather was one of the founding members in 1955, reflects on the evolution of their mission, noting a decreased demand for their initial services over time. Despite these changes, the organization remains committed to serving the Bayside community through education and training, ensuring that the legacy of the original ambulance corps continues into the future.

“People weren’t volunteering or donating and over time people weren’t thinking of the corps when they needed to call an ambulance, they were calling 911 and hospitals in the area so unfortunately we lost the ambulance license because we didn’t have money to maintain it,” Capo said.

Capo, a 9/11 first responder, emphasized the organization’s commitment to remaining a vital part of the community by transitioning to a training center. This strategic pivot allows them to continue offering valuable services to the community, including first responders, police officers, firefighters, and military personnel.

“We provide these courses at affordable rates, with prices ranging from $65 to $500. Completing any of our courses give you a card to state that you are certified in whatever course you took,” Capo explained. As the Bayside native who took the helm as President in 2020, he acknowledged the financial challenges faced due to reduced donations, necessitating the fees for these courses.

Capo is particularly passionate about inclusivity in training, stating, “Our goal is to train as many individuals as possible. We’re open to working out arrangements for those concerned about the cost, ensuring that more people are equipped with lifesaving skills.”

Looking to the future, Capo revealed plans to potentially expand the organization’s role to include rescue response operations, such as search and rescue and water rescue missions, acknowledging that the demand for traditional ambulance services has diminished.

Reflecting on the organization’s evolution over nearly seven decades, Capo expressed deep pride in its resilience and adaptability. “I am proud that we’ve not gone under and that we’ve transformed into something else that can still provide a service to the community. It would have been a shame for us to have closed,” he shared.

Capo, who retired in 2002 after a decade of service, felt a strong duty to return in 2019 to steer the organization away from closure. His dedication underscores a profound commitment to both the organization’s legacy and its future impact on the community.

Details on the available courses can be found on the BVAC Rescue Response Training Center’s website.