Colchester, Vermont – What would you do if you called 911 and an undertaker showed up?
Until the early 1970’s in the United States, and ambulance services and training were set up nationwide by federal decree, an undertaker arriving to transport an accident victim was the normal state of affairs. In 1969, after a student died on the playing field at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, a group of long-haired students, and a former firefighter and their Dean of Students, Don “Pappy” Sutton, founded the first college-affiliated fire department in the U.S.St. Michael’s College Fire and Rescue still serves five Vermont towns and one city, 24-7, 365 days a year, with fire protection and ambulance services, including paramedic care. All of this protection to the Green Mountain State is provided free of charge by volunteer, college-student EMTs and firefighters.
Recently in Vermont, 500 people in fire and police uniforms from all over the U.S. - from Anchorage, Alaska to New York, New York – filled the Doubletree Hotel in South Burlington to celebrate 50 years of fire and rescue (delayed two years due to Covid).
“The fire and rescue program was created to fill a void,” said the now retired Sutton, 94. “Today, our goal is to develop mature and dedicated students that care about what they do and carry that passion with them into the future.”
A new book chronicles the department’s more fun and frightening calls, Crazy Ambulance Tales, by Chris Treece, a former squad EMT, now a journalist and public relations person. One reviewer said the book was "heartfelt and funny with stories that are real and life affirming."
Treece said, “I wanted to chronicle both the white-knuckle and humorous experiences – crazies, car accidents, heart attacks, drunks and druggies - that our EMTs and firefighters treated in my day and still do today.”
About St. Michael’s Fire & Rescue
Saint Michael’s College Fire and Rescue (SMFR) is an independent, volunteer, student-run organization. In addition to a student’s day to day academic responsibilities, they have the opportunity to serve the community through fire protection and emergency medical treatment. SMFR’s crews mainly respond to in the area of Vermont’s most populated Chittenden County, including the City of Winooski, the Town of Colchester, as well as calls to campus. With the dedication and support of Saint Michael’s students, alumni, and staff volunteers, the squad continues to serve 24 hours a day, year round, since 1969. For more info about the squad: http://www.smfronline.org/