The University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit, known as UDECU, is an ambulance service formed in 1976 by Kevin J. O’Neill, a sophomore University of Delaware student.
Until 1976, all non-emergency ambulance transportation was provided by officers from the University of Delaware Department of Public Safety and emergency ambulance transportation was handled by the Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company of Newark, DE. O’Neill believed that students could provide faster and better quality ambulance service and approached John Brook, UD Vice President for Government Relations, with the idea of starting a student-run university ambulance service. Brook liked the idea and referred O’Neill to Investigator Jack Lynn at the Department of Public Safety. Lynn also liked the idea as it would free-up public safety personal for patrol duty. Lynn then wrote a proposal to Mr. Brook pertaining to the ambulance and equipment and O’Neill went about attempting to organize student interest.
The first student interest meeting was an overwhelming success with over 40 students showing interest. Kevin then approached the student activities office with his idea and received recognition as a student organization, with Jack Lynn as faculty advisor. The “Student Security Emergency Care Unit”, as it was originally known, was born. The Student Security Emergency Care Unit received an early 1970’s Ford Econoline Van from Dining Services. They began doing non-emergency transports with this unit. The inside was homemade and pretty bare.
Meanwhile, Lynn received funding from the Department of Public Safety to purchase a 1976 Chevrolet C20 van, complete with sliding side door with a tinted window. Inv. Lynn then spent the next 2 months in his driveway, along with interested students, customizing the van into an ambulance. The ambulance went into service January 1, 1977 and went on its first call later that week. The name was changed to the “University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit” about 2 years later.
1980s and 1990s
UDECU dedicated its first commercially built ambulance, a 1981 Wheeled Coach Ford F-350 Econoline van, on March 20, 1981. UDECU continued to operate using this ambulance and received a well-used ambulance in 1982, as a donation from the Delaware Park Racetrack.
UDECU operated both ambulances until the second one burned up in a fire at a local automotive repair shop in 1985. After a small smoke condition in the ambulance during a call in 1990, Public Safety decided to replace the ambulance. The Department of Public Safety then purchased a 1990 Wheeled Coach Ford E-350 Econoline van as a replacement.
The tradition of type II ambulances was soon to come to an end. In the spring of 1999 a committee was put together to form the specifications for a new, built from scratch, type III ambulance. With lots of hard work over the next semester, the specifications were written and in January of 2000 a new Horton 364 Type III ambulance was delivered to UDECU (below). This ambulance is the first type III and first fully spec’d ambulance that UDECU owned. This ambulance was retired in September 2012.
Upgrading of Service
In the spring of 2001, UDECU completed a historic agreement with Aetna Hose Hook and Ladder Company, the Newark fire department. The agreement allowed UDECU to act as the third due ambulance for the city of Newark. This agreement has allowed UDECU to help Aetna to improve EMS coverage in the city. Since the agreement was signed, UD-1 has responded to car accidents, cardiac arrests, and many other medical emergencies. Then, in 2003, as a direct result of the success of the previous agreement, the district to which UDECU could respond to was extended considerably and UDECU was upgraded to a second due ambulance.
Bylaws passed in December of 2012 provided monumental change to the organization’s leadership structure. The positions of President and Captain were created in order to better facilitate administrative and operational divisons. The position of Director of Personnel merged the former administrative duties of Co-Coordinator and Director of Membership. The position of Driver was revised to not require cleared technician status, and created the position Crew Chief to be the most senior personnel on the ambulance.
Today the University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit operates a fully custom Lifeline Superliner Type III ambulance on a Ford E-450 chassis.
This ambulance was placed in service in September 2012 and dedicated to founding advisor Jack Lynn, on May 10th, 2013 (below).