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Community Celebrates Ambulance
It all started with a little blue ticket.

Back in 1961, that 'blue ticket' cost $20 and was good for a ride - if needed - in the Escalon ambulance. From the visionaries that started the ambulance service on the sales of the blue ticket to the multitude of households that today join up annually as members, the Escalon Community Ambulance marked 50 years in operation at a special celebration on Saturday, April 30.

"We were chartered in April," ECA Chief Mike Pitassi told the gathered crowd at the Saturday anniversary party. "What was that little blue ticket has grown to become the ownership and membership ... we're standing here at a station that is fully paid for by this community."

Escalon Community Ambulance hosted the party at its Ullrey Avenue station, with a portion of the street closed down for display of all types of emergency services vehicles, from fire trucks to Army ambulances to support vehicles.

Across the street, MediFlight touched down and personnel offered tours of the helicopter and information about the service, there were some demonstrations, lots of presentations from a variety of government and emergency services representatives, music, food, reminiscing and a feel of camaraderie.

Pitassi also pointed out some 50-year members of the service, those that have been signing up for the annual membership since the service began in 1961. He thanked those families and individuals that had a hand in starting it and traced the history of the service from its beginnings to moving forward into the 21st century with state-of-the-art equipment and a 24-hour manned station.

"We continue to look to our community for support," Pitassi said. "I thank you and we (ECA) thank you."

ECA Board President Jerry Emery also addressed the crowd.

"I want to thank you for allowing us to serve you in the way that we do," he said. "I also want to thank Mike (Pitassi) and Tina (Van Houten) for their years of service, the years of guidance and mentorship."

Among the presentations were certificates and proclamations from state and county officials, along with the Escalon Chamber of Commerce and the City of Escalon. Sheila Arellano, representing the Chamber, presented Pitassi with a plaque and he in turn thanked her for her years of service to the ECA, continuing her role as its board secretary. Escalon Mayor Danny Fox offered praise for those who "had the foresight" to start the service all those decades ago, as well as presenting a special proclamation from the city.

County supervisor Ken Vogel noted that the ambulance service "grew to meet the needs" of the community and continues to be a strong service today.

It is now partnered with Oak Valley Hospital District and Fox added that the service provides a widespread benefit.

"Escalon Community Ambulance exemplifies what volunteers and community support can accomplish," Fox said.