Cetronia Corps celebrates 60 in style
Cetronia Ambulance Corps celebrated 60 years of emergency medical service to the community with a black-tie gala April 25 at Brookside Country Club, Lower Macungie Township.
The "Health on Wheels" event, now in its fourth year, is an occasion for the volunteers and staff of Cetronia Ambulance, supporters and local leaders to reflect upon the past while celebrating an exciting future. The evening was also an opportunity to raise funds for the non-profit.
Cetronia Ambulance, which began as an all-volunteer rescue squad in 1955, now runs with a mixture of paid staff and volunteers. Expanding coverage area and call volume necessitated the addition of paid staff. During Cetronia's first year of existence, its volunteers answered 29 calls. Fast forward to the present day and the annual call volume is around 50,000.
"It [Cetronia] started as volunteer," said Michael Keenan, a member of the Cetronia Board of Trustees. "When you run an organization that has evolved from throwing bodies into the back of a Cadillac and racing to the hospital into what is basically pre-emergency room care, it's a huge leap."
Cetronia CEO Larry Wiersch began the evening's slate of presentations by recognizing the staff and board members in his opening remarks.
"Today, we base all that we do on our core values of professionalism, integrity, community service, leadership, teamwork and, most importantly, excellence in patient care. We live by these core values and we seek out those who believe that this is what's really important and, ultimately, why we exist as human beings. Beings that care for others like they would care for their own families and those that they love most," Wiersch said.
Notable individuals and local dignitaries involved in the Cetronia legacy were honored by Wiersch during his speech, including Wilmer McNabb, one of only two surviving members of the original 1955 crew.
Also recognized in Wiersch's opening remarks was Pat Early Ward, a Cetronia "save" and success story, who survived cardiac arrest because of the quick response of Cetronia paramedics.
"They saved my life," said Ward later in the evening. "I know I wouldn't be here if not for them. They are all just wonderful."
Other presenters and speakers were State Rep. Ryan E. Mackenzie (R-134th); Ellen Kern from the office of State Sen. Patrick M. Browne (R-16th); Keith Weinhold, Cetronia Board Chairperson; Jim Geiger, Lehigh Valley Health Network, and Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin, recipient of this year's Community Partner Award.
Kern presented Wiersch with a proclamation from Browne recognizing the organization for its many accomplishments. She also surprised and delighted attendees by singing a song she composed for Cetronia's 60th anniversary.
Martin was recipient of the 2015 Community Partner Award for his role in forging a partnership with several key county agencies and Cetronia Ambulance.
The $10-million, 68,000-square-foot building that Cetronia has called home since October 2014 at 4300 Broadway, South Whitehall Township is more than simply an ambulance station. It is a joint operations center with Lehigh County's Medico-Legal Forensics operations.
The dual-agency operations center is unlike anything in the state and will likely serve as a model for other municipalities.
The facility includes the first ballistics testing facility in Lehigh County. The state-of-the-art ballistics lab enableslaw enforcement agencies to potentially solve additional crimes much faster.
The coroner's office and county morgue has also been relocated into the new building.
"It's essential," said Martin in his address, "both to serving the county and law enforcement. They are all great partners and Cetronia has become a great partner. It's worked out great from the standpoint of the county. We are able to move cases and solve cases much more quickly. My appreciation to all the folks at Cetronia. It's a great partnership. It's a great building and I'm happy to have been just a little bit of a help "
Wiersch attributes Cetronia's success and longevity in the community over the past six decades to one main ingredient. "Really, for us it's about the people that make it happen. It's about people that just give a damn quite frankly," Wiersch said.