By Lettie Stratton
John Kelley is retired. Sort of. The 75-year-old started driving ambulances for Shelburne Rescue about two and a half years ago and has been happy spending a good portion of his time doing so ever since.
Kelley, a Shelburne resident for five years, said his interest in the Rescue Squad stemmed from an ad for drivers he saw in the Shelburne News a few years back. Kelley answered the ad, unsure if Shelburne Rescue would hire a 72-year-old. “I figured it was better for them to be the ones to say no than for me to,” he said. Fortunately, the Squad said “yes,” and Kelley is now on duty every Friday and every other Monday, and he usually does one 24-hour shift on weekends. “Our goal is to never be out of service,” he said.
The volunteer-based Shelburne Rescue has been responding to community emergencies for 30 years and currently boasts 38 crewmembers. Kelley explained that although the crew tries to arrive at the scene as quickly as possible, the safety of the crew and the safety of the other people on the road come first. “If we get in an accident on the way there, we haven’t helped anybody,” he said. “On Fridays, when everyone is here, we usually get out the door within 30 seconds.”
Kelley said Shelburne Rescue’s central location serves the Squad well. Located on Turtle Lane, they’re positioned right next to the Town Garage, which makes it convenient to get the ambulances repaired when they need to. The Squad’s two ambulances are on rotation with one always ready to go, plugged into what Kelley called an umbilical cord, which keeps the power fully charged, and the other on reserve. Kelley said the Squad buys a new ambulance every five years to combat regular wear and tear on the vehicles.
Shelburne Rescue is a self-supported entity. “It’s a really close-knit organization,” Kelly said. “We’re a true democracy.” He also emphasized the great working relationship the Squad has with the Police and Fire Departments. “Shelburne is very fortunate,” he concluded.