With the 70th anniversary of the Windsor Locks Lions Ambulance Corps (WLLAC) service upon us, it is only fitting that we share a brief synopsis of our proud and substantial history. The motto of Lions Clubs International is "We Serve". Serving is certainly what the charter members of the Windsor Locks Lions Club had in mind with the inception of its club in 1943. Our am-bulance service possesses a history rich in service tradition. It is quite a feat that the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers of the ambulance have now been rendering emergency aid, saving lives and bringing back lives for 70 years. We are proud of these dedicated individuals and to the legacy that they left us.

With so much to cover, an abbreviated delineation of our history is in order. It is appropriated to note that significant events and milestones are highlighted. Therefore, allow us to pay tribute to the ones who answer the calls for help. The EMS providers who have been staffing the ambulance for the past 70 years are the backbone to the success of the organization. They respond to emergencies at all hours of the day or night, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. They respond to disasters and to mass casualty inci-dents. Moreover, they perform standby for airport and fire emergencies, sports, recreation, and other events. They conduct tours, seminars and blood pressure clinics. It should not go unmentioned that there have been several dedicated Windsor Locks Lions who, over prior years, kept our ambulances running; namely Steve Okon, Tommy Peacock, Roger Ignazio, Roger Nelson, and our supply officer, EMT William Rampelli, affectionately called, "Ram".


The Lions Club needed someone to supervise this newly formed am-bulance service. In all actuality, the Ambulance Chairman (or Chief, as he is known today) did not exist for the first eight years of the Windsor Locks Lions Ambulance Corps. The person in charge was called the Custodian. The hon-or of having served was the first Ambulance Custodian was Philip Koelher, who served in that post until July, 1946. Adolf Fournier was our second Am-bulance Custodian who served from July, 1946 to July, 1948. Bernard "Lucky" Kulas took over as third Ambulance Custodian. He served until July of 1952, and in 1949, he secured the first replacement ambulance, a 1947 Buick.


As time progressed, ambulance calls increased. Emergency calls more than doubled from 52 in 1944, to 119 in 1952. The organization grew and needed more of an administrative network. At the time, the Lions decided to create the position of Ambulance chairman. The first committee of assistants were Laurence Ferrari, Robert Harvey, Lucky Kulas, Harry Wenzel, and Charles Zimowski, named in July of 1952.


Bob Barberi, "Mr. Ambulance", served as Chairman for 30 years until 1982! It is no wonder, by sole virtue of having served so long, that Bob earned his well-deserved nickname. Obviously, he earned this title by his accomplish-ments—he sculpted the Chairmanship and the Corps for three decades and his influence still remains. His enthusiasm and energy, which are still displayed to-day, paved the way for Bob to bring the ambulance association to the standards of excellence it enjoys today. Ambulances were once regarded as "meat wagons" but Bob developed the Windsor Locks Ambulance Corps into service with profes-sionally staffed vehicles. He led us from infancy to adulthood.

At the onset of our ambulance association, only a doctor could request an ambulance. At that time, doctors made house calls. If the doctor deemed it necessary, he would call out the ambulance. The police dispatcher, who received the doctor’s calls would phone Lions members who would in turn, respond. They then transported the patient through the city streets to one of the area hospitals. Remember, Interstate 91 did not exist back then.


In 1959, Bob and his committee procured the first of six ambulances of his tenure. This vehicle was a 1953 Packard and was used until 1959 when the Lions first purchased a Cadillac ambulance. Then the 1965 Cadillacs followed. With the advent of the new state Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS), the Cadillacs were replaced by van ambulances. 1976 saw the arrival of a Dodge van ambulance. The next ambulance was even larger. It was a 1978 Chevrolet Class III ambulance. The cost of the ‘78 ambulance was $28,000—seventeen times more expensive than our first.

THE 50’S AND 60’S

In 1959, Chairman Bob first equipped the ambulance with 2-way radio communication. During this era police officer Lucky Kulas initiated a practice in which police often assisted the ambulance staff. In the 70’s and 80’s, most Wind-sor Locks Police officers became certified EMT’s. The creation of EMT certifica-tion was a drastic change. In the early 50’s, ambulance attendants became certi-fied in basic first aid. In the 60’s they became advanced first aiders. Then, their level of training changed, to the newly developed CPR level. In the early 70’s, OEMS (a state regulatory agency) created a standard which called for ambulance personnel to be even more advanced. The entire state was covered by ambu-lance attendants trained and certified as Medical Response Technicians (MRT’s) and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s).

THE 1970’S

Due to the training required by OEMS, it became difficult to recruit vol-unteers. The Lions turned to town residents asking for their help in staffing the WLLAC. Corps membership was then opened to all residents. At that time, the first women joined the service. Bob actively recruited a young women, Enid Shea, who was a nurse and top notch medic. She was a leader of the freshly reor-ganized Corps and went on to become the town’s first and only EMT instructor.

Bob worked with Con O’Leary, our State Representative at the time, to implement a law in 1974 whereby ambulance personnel were authorized to use green lights to respond to emergencies.

Ambulance Committee Secretary Roger Nelson helped the Corps to ac-quire its first pagers. Corps members were now allowed greater mobility within town.

THE 1980’S

Windsor Locks Lions Ambulance Corps attained yet more communication devices for individual members. The early 80’s saw the purchase of 2-way portable radi-os. The attendants could now speak directly to the dispatcher. As Chairman Bar-beri’s reign started to wind down, OEMS mandated that area paramedic services be involved in higher level training, more expensive equipment—large van or box-type ambulances. Budgets expanded, Corps membership grew.


Lion Roger Nelson became our second Windsor Locks Lions Ambulance Corps Chairman. He served in this capacity until July, 1985. Roger was the first to place the motto "We Serve" on the (third box-type) ambulance, a 1983 Ford Clas-sic II.

An extremely important addition to the ambulance association was the paramedic to Bradley Airport. Bradley Fire and Rescue approached the WLLAC and requested permission to respond in our town. Chairman Nelson negotiated with airport officials to work out an agreement. Other towns benefitted from this agreement.

During Roger’s chairmanship, Hartford Hospital’s Life Star helicopter came into being. Windsor Locks services were the first to become educated on Life Star; not long after that the town started using Life Star for the most serious calls.


Lion member Jack Navaroli replaced Roger Nelson in July of 1985 to be-come our third Ambulance Chairman. The first and only super box" ambulance was acquired. It was a 1986 Ford Super Class III. This am-bulance was so large that most Corps members could stand upright in it.


Roger Ignazio went on to become the fourth Ambulance Chairman, who started in July of 1986. Roger’s term was marked by organizing and updating our service. He directed the creation and revision of a mass casualty protocol.


Lion Joseph Barile succeeded Roger in July, 1987, as the fifth Ambulance Chairman. At the age of 24 he was the youngest chairman to serve in our history. Joe’s term was marked by expansion and added services. He served until Septem-ber of 1991. During Joe’s tenure, mutual aid was formally introduced. Mutual aid is an agreement in which ambulances from neighboring towns respond to each other when the need arises. When one ambulance was out on repairs or a call, an ambulance from the other town would come in. For the first few decades of our many other towns lacked ambulance service.


Good fortune had finally arrived. The FINAST Corporation housed an ambulance that it used for its employees, as well as for mutual aid to our town. After the FINAST Ambulance stopped taking calls, and negotiations with Chief Barile and the State OEMS, the corporation decided to donate its 1976 Dodge ambulance to the Windsor Locks Lions Ambulance Corps. We gratefully accepted that vehicle, which was donated in the memory of Laurie "Irish" Moran in May, 1989. On August 12, 1989, during ceremonies at ambu-lance headquarters, the town commissioned our first Medic 2.


After 45 years, we finally had more than a simple bay for our service. The Town of Windsor Locks furnished us with the entire building. The Town has been good to us over the years. We sincerely appreciate all that has been done and is continuing to be done for us. Corps members, committee mem-bers, and Lions all teamed together to renovate and expand the headquar-ters.


Due to safety federal emission regulations, diesel engines were re-quired for ambulances. In 1989, the time had come to retire the ‘86 rig; it was replaced by our first diesel ambulance, a 1989 Ford Super Van. The Corps maintained the use of two vehicles. The following year, Medic 2 was replaced by a 1991 Ford Class II diesel ambulance, at a cost of $62,500. This thirteenth ambulance of our organization cost thirty-eight times more than our original ambulance.


Pieces of equipment which cost the Lions thousand of dollars were our two defibrillators. Each one comes in at price of $5,000. They have saved many lives over the years.


Lion Andrew Kulas took over as the sixth Windsor Locks Lions Ambu-lance Chairman in September 1991. His term was marked by continued expan-sion and by Corps’ growth and participation. He was also the fortunate Chairman to usher the ambulance service through its 50th anniversary. Chairman Andy instituted auxiliary membership to WLLAC. This position was conferred to these non-Lions, non-Corps members who assist the Corps in the much needed areas which do not deal directly with responding to ambulance calls. They, like so many others, act as support staff for the Corps. Chuck Lincoln became the Auxiliary Member in March of 1992; in June of that year, Anne Barberi and Phyllis Peacock were granted Auxiliary Membership status.


The position of Chief was becoming more demanding, and Chairman Andy devised a way to lighten the load. He inaugurated a command system of Duty Chiefs. These officers take on the personnel and field duties of the Chief during set time periods. In addition to assisting the Chairman, these Duty Chiefs experienced the taste of running an ambulance service.


Lion Stephen Molinari succeeded Andrew Kulas as the traditional Chair-man/Chief. During Steve’s time in this capacity, the Windsor Locks Lions Club struggled with a major dilemma. The early 90’s saw a major decline in volunteer EMS providers available to staff our ambulance during the day. The Lions were faced with a difficult choice: either retire the 50-year old community service pro-ject, or find a way to keep it going without sacrificing the high quality patient care the community had come to depend on during the previous half century.

After numerous meetings, it was decided that the WLLAC would contin-ue with some major changes. Part time paid EMT’s needed to be hired to supple-ment the volunteers on staff. Along with this, a paid Chief of Service was needed to supervise the mix of volunteer and paid staff and to handle the growing amount of administrative work required to keep the service running

To fund these changes, the service had to begin billing for ambulance calls, so unfortunately, 50 years of free EMS care had drawn to a close.

During November, 1994, the Windsor Locks Lions Club began the process of searching for its first paid Chief. An interview committee was formed and their recommendation to fill this position was Stephen Molinari.

This change required that the Chairman and Chief’s positions must be held by two different people. Lion Joseph Barile was selected by the Club to suc-ceed Stephen Molinari as Chairman of the Ambulance Executive Board (AEB). The next step in this process was to hire part time EMT’s to work with the volunteer members to staff the primary ambulance 24 hours a day. Once this was accom-plished, it was decided that the revised Windsor Locks Lions Club Ambulance ser-vice would go "on line" during December of 1994.


Lion Patricia "Trish" Julian succeeded Joe Barile as the ninth Chairman of the Ambulance Executive Board. She held this position until 2003.

After much discussion, the Ambulance Executive Board and the Lions Board of Directors decided to upgrade the ambulance service to Paramedic level. This process required submitting an application to the State of CT Department of Public Health, purchasing the required equipment, and hiring enough Paramedics to staff the primary ambulance at this level 24 hours a day, every day, year round.

Along with this, our first two ambulances were both reaching the end of reliable service life. This upgrade required a great deal of coordination and plan-ning. A used, low-mileage Road Rescue ambulance was purchased to provide a more reliable primary unit (Medic 1). Used Physio Controls Lifepak II Cardiac Monitor-Defibrillators were obtained from the manufacturer. The other equip-ment and medications required were purchased. The State Department of Public Health approved our application to upgrade to the Paramedic level and our ser-vice went on line as such in the summer of 1998.


Our used Road Rescue ambulance served us well, but was in serious need of replacement. A new 2000 McCoy Miller Type 3 ambulance was pur-chased to replace this truck. Another duplicate McCoy Miller was purchased in 2001, as our back-up unit was requiring frequent major repairs to keep it on the road.



Lion Hallie Wong succeeded Lion Trish Julian as Ambulance Executive Board Chairman in July of 2003. As the standards of medical care changed, so our protocols did as well. Our service and Paramedics provide Advanced Life Support Care under medical authorization and sponsorship from Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford. We provide this level of care under the direction of their physicians.


The ambulances, provider, and equipment have changed through the years, but the goal of the Windsor Locks Lions Club Ambulance Corps remains the same—to provide high quality patient care to the people we treat.

We routinely work with vendors and Saint Francis Hospital to evaluate new equipment and procedures in the field. Some of these things move on to become part of our protocols.

With the advances being made in technology, we are able to bring many treatment options normally found in the hospital directly to the patients’ homes. This, combined with highly skilled EMS providers and the wonderful support of the community help us to meet our primary goal—superior patient care.

Thank You for Your Support!


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