A little history on the founding of CALS. On July 1, 1989, Calvert Advanced Life Support (CALS) held its first official meeting. In attendance were Charter Members Sally Showalter, Buddy Van Heusen, Stanis Thrasher Inscoe, Jeff Goad, Jim Richardson, Paramedic Instructor Kathy LaRoch, Larry Patin, Bobby Bonner, Nurse Henri Hale, Mike Sharpe, Bobby Allen, Mary Anne Antoun, Sam Isenberg and Calvert County’s First Medical Director, Dr. Daniel Fricke.
During that meeting, the first elected officers of Calvert ALS were voted into office and consisted of Captain Mike Sharpe, President Mary Ann Antoun, Vice President Buddy Van Heusen, Secretary Stanis Thrasher Inscoe, and Treasurer Jeff Goad.
On January 1, 1990, with a used advanced life support chase vehicle, purchased from Charles County Mobil Intensive Care Unit, for one dollar, and a membership of seven new paramedics, Calvert ALS, Inc. ran its first call from the basement of the Court House on Main Street, in Prince Frederick. This one hundred fifty square foot room, which served as an office, bunkroom, storage room and a radio room that was shared with the 911 dispatcher, would remain their home for the next two years. Without the comforts of a temperature-controlled garage, the chase vehicle had to be parked outside and all of the equipment carried inside between calls.
In 1992, Calvert ALS moved to Prince Frederick VFD, increasing their living space to two hundred square feet and consisted of an office and bunkroom on the second floor. Again, there was no garage to house their vehicles, and their equipment was carried upstairs each night. As the membership grew, they longed for their own location where they could relax, watch TV, hold meetings and eat their meals.
In 1993, the organization was moved to Dr. Silpasuvan’s office just off Route 4 in north Prince Frederick. Dr. Silpa graciously allowed Calvert ALS to call the basement of her office “Home” and the group was delighted with the 1,250 square feet of living space and the privacy it offered. This remained “Home” for the next seven years. However, without adequate garage facilities, their equipment was once again carried inside each night. Snow and ice was scraped from their windshields each winter.
In December 2000, Calvert ALS was relocated for the third time to Theater Drive off Stoakley Road in Prince Frederick. The 2,500 square foot facility included a one-bay garage through which the paramedics were able to squeeze two vehicles into the garage area – a first for the organization. The luxury of a kitchen/living room combination, two bunk rooms – another first for the group – one office and a bay large enough to hold meetings (after the two vehicles were pulled outside) was to remain home for the next six years.
As the membership continued to grow with forty-five medics, twenty interns/students and over sixty-five additional members, Calvert ALS spread its coverage across the county. In 2004, ALS gear was placed on the ambulances at six basic life support departments throughout the county, often shortening the time frame that advanced life support could be delivered to patients in need. Two satellite chase vehicles, housed at Solomon’s VFD and Huntingtown VFD, also allowed paramedics to respond from their homes and get an ALS vehicle on the scene expeditiously. However, adequate sleeping, shower, meeting rooms and most importantly training rooms, could not be squeezed out of the 1,700 square feet of living space that the Theater Drive facility offered for its main core group of 130 volunteers.
On Tuesday, July 11, 2006, the Calvert County Board of Commissioners solved the sixteen year dilemma by signing a ten-year lease, with two ten-year options to renew, moving this all volunteer group of paramedics for the fourth and final time to their new “Home” in south Prince Frederick. The beautiful brick “Old Calvert Bank Building,” as it is fondly remembered consists of nearly 7,000 square feet of living space. A separate 4-vehicle garage located directly behind the main building was also obtained to house the growing fleet of chase vehicles.
Over the years, it has been a “Long Road” indeed, but, Calvert ALS has not only survived, it has prospered. It is the sole advanced life support care for over 89,000 county residents. Our chase vehicles cover a 219-square mile county that is almost exclusively surrounded by water, bordered by the Chesapeake Bay on the east and the Patuxent River on the west and south.
Therefore, you have to ask yourself, “Do you have what it takes?” We are looking for a few good volunteers.
Calvert Advanced Life Support is one of 9 departments providing fire, rescue, and emergency medical services to the community through the tiered response in partnership with seven departments providing basic life support and transport units. The department utilizes five advanced life support chase units and three support vehicles that respond with 14 basic life support units from other departments that carry additional advanced life support gear to respond to 5,000 calls for service a year. The membership consists of approximately 72 advanced level emergency medical services providers and 60 basic life support members.
On March 15, 2016, the Calvert Board of County Commissioners presented CALS with an award of recognition for their commitment and provision to the citizens of Calvert County.
Margit Miller / Calvert Beacon