By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — It’s been an eventful few years for Middlebury’s Bill Edson, to say the least.
During the spring of 2006, Edson was a U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class, who, as a part of Task Force Saber, was treating injured soldiers in and around the war-torn city of Ramadi, Iraq.
He returned as a decorated veteran and — after a brief stint at Fletcher Allen Health Care — transitioned into a less intense vocation of selling medical supplies.
But Edson last month returned to the front lines of health care, this time as supervisor of operations for the Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association (MVAA).
“It was really appealing to find a position I was suited for right here at home,” Edson said during an interview last week.
He replaces Scott Supernaw, who recently left to become top administrator for the Brandon Area Rescue Squad.
In the MVAA, Edson takes over a nonprofit organization based off Elm Street that counts around 60 staff and volunteers and a fleet of four ambulances, a heavy rescue truck and a mass casualty trailer. The 30-year-old organization responds to approximately 1,800 service calls per year in Middlebury, East Middlebury, Bridport, Shoreham, Orwell, Ripton, Salisbury, Cornwall, Weybridge, Whiting and New Haven.
While Edson’s main duties involve coordinating MVAA activities and tending to administrative chores, he also plans to become involved in ambulance runs. He is seeking recertification for emergency responder qualifications needed to respond to calls.
Like most people affiliated with the MVAA, he knows he will not be working a regular 9-to-5 job. Calls can come in at any time of the day or night for a service that must be provided 24/7.
“I’m scheduled for 40 hours a week, but I will obviously do more than that,” Edson said. “When you work at this type of organization, it’s really a lifestyle. You can’t measure it in hours per week.”
A vital service like the MVAA requires participation from a lot of different people. The current MVAA roster features a total of eight full-time paid positions (with another two EMT posts currently being advertised). That means that the lifeblood of the organization continues to be volunteers, a precious commodity that Edson wants to nurture and expand.
“One of my priorities is not to lose the emphasis on volunteerism,” Edson said. “It is important that we maintain that viability. The organization couldn’t survive without the volunteers.”
Edson, 44, joins the MVAA at key time in its history. Now cramped in a former Elm Street home with inadequate parking, the MVAA is close to forging a deal to build a new headquarters. Association leaders said the location and scope of the new building will be revealed when a deal is in place.
“Our plan moving forward is to build a new facility we can grow into and where we can house all of our vehicles on-site,” Edson said.
Edson has lived in Middlebury since 1988. He and his wife, Carol, have five children. He currently also serves as chairman for the Middlebury United Methodist Church Administrative Council, the varsity track and field coach at Middlebury Union High School, and was recently appointed by Gov. James Douglas as a member of the Vermont Veterans’ Home Board of Trustees.