UD Rescue Squad student volunteers and alumni speak fondly of the camaraderie and joy of helping others.
The same can’t be said for the organization’s aging squad house.
Since 1994, 214 Lawnview Ave. has been the base of operations for the squad.
Formerly student housing, the tan-colored, two-story house with white trim has two small upstairs bedrooms for overnight duty crews and a single, cramped bathroom on the second floor that is reached by a narrow, winding staircase.
Kim Sherman ’13 recalled crew members falling down the “very loud, creaky, steep steps” while dashing downstairs at night to respond to an emergency call.
The first floor features a tiny kitchen that Sherman described as “chaos” if more than one person tries to cook a meal at the same time. There’s also a small living room with an old, overstuffed sofa where students study and watch Netflix while waiting for emergency calls. The dining room becomes a game of musical chairs at shift change, and the laundry room doubles as file storage space.
UD Rescue frequently holds its crew meetings in the adjacent, heated ambulance garage, built in 2008, because of the lack of space in the squad house.
Squad members have a “love-hate relationship with the house,” said junior Neil Glenn, a premed major from Dayton.
“Everyone loves being here, mostly for the people,” Glenn said. “It definitely serves its function, but other than that, I think it’s hard to say much else about it.”
But help is on the way.
“The house has always been small, and it has always been old, and it is just time to replace it,” said Maj. Randy Groesbeck ’98, director of administration and security for the Department of Public Safety and the organization’s adviser. “It is far too small for what the Rescue Squad is currently doing.”
Work has begun on a new squad house, which will cost an estimated $400,000, including construction and furnishing.
University trustee John M. Forte ’64 has pledged to match all donations up to $200,000.
Forte, president of Miami-based Forte Properties, said he was so impressed by a Rescue Squad presentation to the board of trustees that he visited the squad house in May 2015. There, he discovered their working conditions were, as he said, “deplorable.”
“These poor students had to live in these conditions while they’re out trying to save lives and do their studies at the same time,” Forte said. “I thought that they needed some help, so I tried to put something together to get them a new facility.”
Unibilt Industries of Vandalia, Ohio, will build the new house and has committed $25,000 to the project. Unibilt Chief Financial Officer Gregory S. Barney is a Flyer — Class of 1987 — and the parent of a current civil engineering student.
In addition, several anonymous donors have contributed to the campaign, but more funds are needed.
The new, 2,241-square-foot squad house will offer three bedrooms and three full bathrooms, including one on the first floor that can be used as a decontamination area. In addition, the two-story house will feature a large gathering space, office and study areas, and a covered walkway to connect it to the ambulance garage.
“Aside from the comfort, it’s a proper headquarters for a service such as this,” Groesbeck said.
In midwinter, workers began preparing the old house for demolition, and the squad has been relocated to Lawnview Apartments for spring semester. Plans call for construction to begin in May. It will be operational by August for the start of the fall 2016 semester.
“I am very excited for next year just because I see all the things that we already do in a space that I feel is very limiting for a lot of things that we could be doing,” said squad chief Jonathan Melendez, a senior premed major from San Juan, Puerto Rico. “I think this is really going to increase our boundaries next year.”
To support the Rescue Squad house, visit alumnicommunity.udayton.edu/rescue-squad or contact Todd Imwalle ’84, senior director of development, at 937-229-5460.