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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

WHEATON VOLUNTEER RESCUE SQUAD INC

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Disaster Aid, Emergency Medical Services & Transport, Fire Prevention, Health, Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness & Relief, Search & Rescue Squads

Mission: The Mission of the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad is to protect the public’s health and safety in partnership with the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. We are a volunteer, not-for-profit corporation that provides emergency services to any person in need.

Results: We responded to 10,466 calls for service in 2018 supported by 90,278 hours of volunteer service.

Target demographics: anyone who calls 9-1-1 during an emergency

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 11,000 people who called 9-1-1 during an emergency.

Geographic areas served: Wheaton and surrounding areas of Montgomery County, Maryland

Programs: emergency ambulance transport, firefighting, and special rescue services.

Community Stories

55 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3 Amanda L. M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Not only does WVRS serve its community but it cares for it as well. WVRS also changes lives by shaping people into members who forever love to help others. Its been a long time sunce I have had the pleasure of volunteering there, but I follow their activities regularly.

Comments ( 1 )

Gamunu Thank you Amanda. Past and present volunteers like yourself are our lifeblood.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve never met a kinder, more generous group of people.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer for the past 17 years at the WVRS and have met some great people during my time with the organization. I continue volunteering to this day and continue to help the organization provide the great level of care to the neighboring communities that they have been providing continuously for the last 65 years.

1 Sean A.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great group that does good work for the community.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The members of WVRS consistently exemplify the highest levels of professionalism and dedication to community service. For the last 65 years the members of the rescue squad have answered the call - and in the last year WVRS has stepped up in an unprecedented way in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being 100% staffed by volunteers on the nights & weekends, WVRS did not fail to respond to a single 911 call and staffed surge ambulances for several months of 2020. This feat is unprecedented in the history of WVRS and is particularly impressive within the context of a global pandemic.

The leadership of WVRS, captained by President Gam Wijetunge and Chief Mark Dempsey, has leveraged an innovative data-driven approach to recruit, train and retain a robust volunteer workforce with the diversity to match the community they serve. The department leadership is also leveraging innovative internet based learning solutions to facilitate the next generation of learning at WVRS. As a result of these efforts, the department has seen an increased number of recruits and applicants while maintaining a consistent set of training requirements to ensure a competent emergency response.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Wheaton Rescue Squad has responded for my father having chest pain in the middle of the night, my sister having a panic attack and my mother who fell in the snow and fractured her ankle. I couldn't be more thankful for what the members of the Rescue Squad do!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at The Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad for nearly 20 years. It is my second home and my second family. This organization provides volunteer Fire & Rescue services every weeknight and on all weekends, thus saving the County and its citizens millions in funding for 24 hour paid firefighters and EMTs. This is a great organization to volunteer with and/or to support as a nonprofit community organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have dedicated 35 years of my life to volunteering at the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad. I enjoy giving back to my community. The Rescue Squad has been there for my wife, my parents, my grandmother as well as friends and neighbors. I want to be there so other families feel the same support.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been an active volunteer sine 1985. I enjoy responding to the needs of the community and giving of myslef to help others. I especially enjoy mentoring new members and building their knowledge and skills in the area of Emergency Medical Services. Each life we touch and save is important to us. There is no greater calling than helping those who cannot help themselves.

Read more

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve been a paramedic with the Wheaton volunteer rescue squad for 6 years. This dedicated group of volunteers respond to 911 calls in their community, provide community education and have space, in non-covid times, to host events. Those who volunteer represent all aspects of the community they serve. All the crews work hard to have the most up to date skills and knowledge to provide the best care, rescue/extrication or fire fighting possible. It is a wonderful group to face even the toughest emergency with.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A wonderful second family that supports the volunteers who in turn serve the local community through emergency response, community education and engagement in prevention. I am lucky to work with great people serving a great community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The best in the business. Motivated and passionate volunteerism at its best!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with this organization for over 30 years and their dedication to serving the community is unmatched. 24 hours a day 365 days a year they take care of people when they are most vunerable.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I joined at 16 years old in 1978. It is my second family and I have had the honor of leading these great people for the last 7 years.

I am nearing the end of my tenure and know that I will miss it tremendously. But this is a younger persons game :)

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great place to work. Provide excellent service to the Wheaton Community

Maggie N.4

Board Member

Rating: 5

A truly dedicated organization that has gone above and beyond!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My observations of Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad over the past 15 years, or so:

The membership regularly demonstrates their dedication to our community by taking their duty seriously, continuously learning and improving as firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. They thoughtfully and respectfully work with the public, mitigating hazards and saving lives on thousands of calls per year.

They represent a cross-section of our society, both professionals and students, as they provide the highest of emergency medical and fire/rescue service. Many young WVRS members have gone on to be career firefighters and paramedics, doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners. Others took their experience to other professional fields. Just as many came to WVRS after already starting out in those same professional disciplines.

Countless WVRS members have been recognized with awards for their quality service to the community. It has been my honor to know my many dedicated friends at WVRS.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

they do amazing work here! integral part of the community.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I know multiple young people who have had their lives changed for the better by being trained by WVRS. They are all also proud of their service to the community.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great community supporters! We love seeing them at events in the surrounding area.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Providing critical and exemplary service to the community. Dedicated staff that go above and beyond the call of duty.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started my membership with the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad in December of 2007, as a Cadet Member. I had just turned 16 years old, and was a sophomore in high school.

From the first time I stepped into the station for a ride along, I knew that this was my passion. The membership, leadership, and public safety in general, ignited a fire in me (no pun intended) that has stuck with me since that first day.

From the infancy of my membership with the Rescue Squad, I worked hard at it. I put a significant amount of time and effort into it. In fact, I had never worked so hard at anything in my life. I found myself totally immersed in becoming a better firefighter, and always training to make sure that I could live up to the high standards that had been set by members of WVRS since 1955.

Public safety and community involvement through the rescue squad became an enormous part of my life. In August of 2013, I began a career with the Montgomery County Department of Police as a Police Officer. I can honestly attribute my employment with them to the skills, character, and morals that I learned during my time with the Rescue Squad.

Over the years, my involvement with the Rescue Squad has, admittedly, slowed. I miss the days of being 19 years old, and riding the Rescue Squad 6 nights a week. I wouldn’t trade those experiences, good and bad, or those friendships, for anything in the world.

But, even now, having less free time, more outside responsibilities, and job related responsibilities, I find it impossible to leave. Even with a busy schedule, no matter what, I return to the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad each week for duty. And along with me, so does every other member of the station.

Being a volunteer with the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad has literally shaped and molded my life, and I am forever grateful to the Officers of the department, and the executive leadership who led me to where I stand today.

12 years ago, if you had told me that I would one day be a line officer for this department, I wouldn’t believe you. I wouldn’t believe that an organization, or group of officers could shape 16 year old me into one of those sharp, experienced, and respectable leaders to whom I so greatly admired.

As a line officer for the department now, I strive to be one of those same role models for younger members. If anybody can have the same experience as me, it will positively impact their life in major ways, and they will be capable of accomplishments and achievements that they never thought possible.




***Writing this was important enough to me to do it on vacation in Italy, so I am writing this on a tiny iPhone. Please excuse any typos***

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Wheaton Volinteer Rescue Squad is an awesome asset to the greater Wheaton community. In addition to their engagement in many different community events and activities, they perform important life-saving work.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined in 1991 when I was 18. It added so much to my personality and character. Although I dont run calls any longer I still pop in when I can. WVRS is in my heart forever.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined WVRS as a volunteer when I was 16 years old. My 7 years at the station truly shaped my career goals and I have spoken about the organization in almost every job interview, even as I have gotten farther away from healthcare. WVRS creates a wonderful community for volunteers and provides an invaluable service to the community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at Wheaton Rescue while stationed at NNMC Bethesda in the mid to late 90s. R2 helped to mold me into the EMS provider and leader that I am today. Wheaton sent me to paramedic school, gave me some of the best experience in my EMS career, and allowed me to work with some very talented EMTs, paramedics, and rescue techs as my mentors. Many of the lessons I learned at Wheaton I still use on a regular basis some 25 years later. I am ever grateful for my time at Wheaton and the ideals of quality patient care, public safety comraderie, and community service that Wheaton Rescue instilled into this kid from Maine.

Sonia L.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer for about 3 years. I enjoy giving back and serving the community that watched me grow along side it. We do great things!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm a life member of WVRS, I joined when I was just 16 years old. WVRS was formative for my confidence, my sense of purpose, and my work ethic. No other community/group I've been involved in (short of my family!) has had as much positive impact in my life as WVRS has. I continue to support the organization remotely and will do so far as long as it exists (or as long as I do!).

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer at Wheaton for almost 41 years. I joined when I was 16 and it 'got into my blood'. I am currently the Chief of the Department. The 135 or so dedicated volunteers make my job as Chief a pleasure. This has been a great life altering experience.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Done very good work for the community and provides excellent care.

2 Lou K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In my 49th year of volunteering with WVRS. Joining in 1970 changed my life's direction. I continue to give back to the Squad and community on my weekly duty night. Fantastic training and experience.

1 Avery J. L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at the squad for a little over 4 years on Thursday crew. It was one of the best experiences of my life. It was a great feeling to respond to an emergency and work alongside a crew that I both trusted and admired so much. I learned so much about patient care as well as team work. I have nothing but great things to say about WVRS and I miss volunteering there immensely.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's difficult to express and encapsulate how this organization has positively impacted me through the work we did as volunteers for the Wheaton area community. It's very personal in that it gave me a place to be, a place to learn, be challenged, and serve.

As I think about it this place and what's it has done personally for me, I can't help but reflect on the fact all the volunteers the have come and gone through those doors, left as better people because of WVRS and the work they did there. It's impossible not to be profoundly impacted by working alongside so many diverse volunteers that have supported WVRS in innumerable ways over the decades. The diversity of this organization's membership is something that should be acknowledged and celebrated, as it wasn't this way, but it is a testament to an organization that undoubtedly can change with the times and have always had an open the door to all in the spirit volunteerism and giving back to your community.

I am proud of having been able to call this place a second home for the 6 or 7 years that I volunteered there, and I hope I was able to give back what this organization gave me. The lessons and experiences I learned have forever impacted my work with nonprofits and WVRS will ways have a warm spot in my heart.

I couldn't have asked for a better experience or a more worthwhile organization.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This may not be what you're looking for, but I wouldn't exist without WVRS. Back in the late 60s, there was a golf tournament played at Congressional Country Club. My mother served as a lifeguard at one of the water hazards on the course during the tournament. My father was a member of WVRS, who was providing first aid and emergency services during the tournament. It was a typical ridiculously hot, humid day and my mother passed out from the heat. She was brought in to the first aid tent in a WVRS ambulance, where my father was among those assisting her. I've actually seen an old clip on tv from the golf tournament, I forget who was taking a shot, and you can see the ambulance going by in the background, and every time I've seen it, my father would yell "There goes your mother!" They were married 17 years. Alas, WVRS was also one of the responding units when my mother passed away from a heart attack in 1985. I am so grateful to them for all their services in regards to the welfare of my family. My father left WVRS when he joined the Navy and then moved on afterwards, but he still speaks of them fondly.

2 Mark P.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Best experience I have ever had!
No I can't meet you tomorrow, I have duty. That was the phrase I heard from lieutenant Sobolewski for months before I found out that he was a volunteer at the WVRS. He arranged for me to do a ride-along, as luck would have it that day was Halloween 1985. It was a fun night of antics at the station and we ran several ambulance calls, I was hooked!
I became a life member after 11 years of active duty before moving to Delaware.
I have used the skills that I learned at the Rescue Squad to work for an ambulance company, in an emergency room and as a medical examiner doing drug and alcohol testing for the DOT, all things I learned directly from the Rescue Squad.
I have usedy the skills learned from the rescue squad many times outside of that Arena. Good times, hard times, life experiences, and lifelong friends. All the sweat was worth it.
I would highly recommend this to anybody who wants to learn how to help people.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The WVRS has been summoned to help my Mom on several occasions due to falls, fainting spells and complications from diabetes. Their team members are not only prompt and professional but also caring, showing great concern for the well being of those needing help.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a member of another department in the 80's and 90's, but I wanted to be a paramedic. My department did not have a volunteer advanced life support unit for me to do my internship time. Wheaton welcomed me in, and let me do my riding time in. This allowed me to upgrade to a full Paramedic, and to become the first female command officer in Montgomery County. Thanks!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a former volunteer for WVRS. One of the hardest things to leave behind when I moved (for work) was this volunteer duty. The work was very meaningful, and I gained so much from the training and classes while I was there. I was very sorry to leave this experience behind.
All that being said, this is a great non-profit, and they're always in need of more volunteers, all of whom need training and equipment. If you donate or volunteer here, your money or time is well-spent.

3 Mallomar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The squad is like a family. Whenever I'm not sure where my son is, I know he's at the squad doing his shift, or more likely, "filling in" for someone. His life has been enriched working with this wonderful group of people.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Had a great experience with this rescue station when they responded to a 911 call. My mom was having chest pain and they came super fast and were very professional and caring when they were helping her! So happy to have them in our neighborhood.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The committed volunteers of the WVRS have, for decades, demonstrated their willingness to risk their own lives in order to save the lives of others, and thus make our community a safer, better place. I've known a handful of current and former volunteers since the mid-90s and will always feel an abundance of pride in their public service as members of the close-knit WVRS family. I donated my first car to WVRS back in '04 and will continue to find opportunities to support this stellar non-profit in the future.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at the squad in the late 1990's. Well-organized group of professionals who care about the community and taking care of people, in a selfless way. There are people there who have been donating one night a week and one weekend a month to Wheaton for decades.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined in 1994 as Senior in high school. Today I'm a proud life member of the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad. This organization was formative to my character/grit/outlook on the world. I firmly believe I wouldn't be as successful (at work, with my family) were it not for WVRS helping to mold me into a strong, confident, community member/leader.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WVRS is an amazing group of individuals with a single mission - to serve the public. As a volunteer with WVRS, I understand the difficulty of spending 12-18 hours at the station every single week. I understand how hard it is to spend the night away from your wife, husband, children - and not get enough sleep for work the next day. The members of WVRS don't volunteer for the money, the fame, or the glory of running calls "Chicago Fire" style. There is no money, there is no fame, and responding to a nursing home at 3am for a patient who fell out of bed is not glorious. Providing a service to the community and enjoying the friendships forged during your shift are why we do it.

Volunteer

Rating: 2

Sorry, I definitely did not have a good experience. After graduating high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my summer. I figured volunteering at the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad was an option to open doors and provide opportunities for my future. After a while waiting for some administrative processes to be taken care of, I was finally a probationary member.

I did not expect the level of hazing, nepotism, and sheer hostility provided by active members and officers at the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad. I cannot speak for other probationary members that were on the same shift as me, but I definitely didn't feel welcomed ever at the rescue squad as a fellow member due to the hazing I had experienced early on in my training. From getting sprayed with soap water from a tank, getting beat up, and getting told to shut up in front of a patient, I thought that this behavior was normal to experience at a firehouse. As an eighteen year old, who has never done any volunteer work before, I was frightened for my future career in the medical industry.

I did tell the chief, Chief Dempsey, of the hazing that I had experienced. Unfortunately, I reported the incident too late so nothing could be done except for a report and warning that went into the files of the members that did the hazing.

Don't get me wrong, the organization is doing great things by providing the services they provide. But I do not believe they deserve the title of a great non-profit organization. Sorry.

Comments ( 1 )

profile

Gamunu 07/01/2017

I am sorry you had this experience and I apologize on behalf of the WVRS. Hazing is totally inconsistent with our organizational value of providing a culture of inclusiveness, respect and accountability. I will share your comments with our Board of Directors when we next meet on July 11, 2017. Based on the information you provided in your review I believe an investigation was conducted and disciplinary action was taken according to the MCFRS code of ethics and on-duty personal conduct (https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/frs-ql/resources/files/swsj/policyprocedures/admin/frcadmin22-00AM.pdf). I am available to meet with you personally and discuss this or any other concerns you have. Sincerely, Gamunu Wijetunge President WVRS cell(240)535-5709

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at this department has been the best positive experience of my life. Starting in 2007 as a 16 year old cadet, I've moved through the ranks to become a squad driver. Making a difference with every 9-1-1 response. I love what I do but the people is what makes this a family.

Review from Guidestar

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WVRS is an amazing organization filled with caring individuals who serve their comunity with pride. Volunteering as a member of the rescue squad since 2014 has made me an overall better person.

Review from Guidestar

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with the department since 2009. It has become a second family, the amount of great members from the community that volunteer at the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad is amazing. Everyone comes together for one reason, and that is to help and give back to the community. If you are looking for a place to give back or leave a legacy with others join us.

Review from Guidestar

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When our old sponsor decided they didn't have room for an Explorer Post anymore, Wheaton VRS opened it's doors an adopted the Montgomery County First Aid Unit, Explorer Post 742.

Exploring is a co-ed, career based offshoot of Boy Scouts of America geared to youth ages 14-20. Our Post is an EMS Post, which is youth run and provides training to the Emergency Medical Responder level. The Post provides standby first aid coverage for public and private events, with the youth providing most of the care.

By opening their doors to the Post, WVRS helped keep a unique learning and community service opportunity running, which has introduced hundreds of teens to the EMS profession since it's creation at the Red Cross in 1962.

Review from Guidestar

5

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad directly and indirectly touches 1000's of lives daily. This happens through current, previous and life members. The core values established in inviduals when they are members follow them through their entire lives. Many go on to be Doctors, nurses, Fire Chiefs and parents all taking with them a lil part of the WVRS. I personally can not thank the WVRS enough for what it has done for me and how the organization and its members have touched me past and present. Thank you!!!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad is the best. Fast and helpful in an emergency and truly nice people!

Comments ( 1 )

profile

Gamunu 06/21/2017

Thank you for your steadfast support Janet.

Review from Guidestar

4 Paula Galanakos

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This squad is my true second home. The highlight of my week is being able to come to the squad to volunteer, train, serve the community, and form lifelong friendships with my crew. My only regret is that I wish I had joined sooner! I enjoy every minute that I am fortunate enough to be at the squad whether it's running calls, cooking a meal with crew members, fundraising,or delivering presents on Christmas Eve, Rescue 2 is the place to be!! (Returning member from 2012) -Paula Galanakos

Review from Guidestar

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Caring for our community since 1955. One of the busiest rescue squads in the USA.

Review from Guidestar

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Amazing group of people that provide their expertise and time to their community.

Review from Guidestar