The Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance and First Aid Corps, which has been serving Brooklynites in need for more than 47 years, now needs help itself, reports The Canarsie Courier.

The organization serves just under 200,000 residents across Bergen Beach, Flatlands, Marine Park, Mill Basin and Mill Island, with only two ambulances.

FVAC is currently operating with limited resources and not enough volunteers. The organization is one of nine active Brooklyn-based volunteer ambulance services. Only three other ambulance services in the borough provide advanced life support. Moreover, FVAC maintains its own emergency number for community members to call and 911 services also dispatch them.

As a volunteer service, FVAC relies primarily on community donations to survive. Last year, they raised over $45,000. However, this amount only covers a fraction of their operational costs forcing the group to find funding elsewhere.

The FVAC currently has 45 active members, which is only enough volunteers to staff about nine shifts per week. Members are required to participate in one six-hour shift per month, at minimum, to help encourage continued participation. Despite this, recruiting and retaining membership is a growing challenge.

“As a volunteer, I get to enjoy what I do and I kind of hone in on the craft of EMS,” stated Israel Itzkowitz, a paramedic and member of the FVAC.

Without new members and increased funding, the future of the Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance Corps is at stake and would put added strain on city EMS systems.

“If the volunteers go away,” Itzkowitz said,

“EMS will have a massive increase of call volume that I don’t think the 911 system would be able to tolerate.”

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