Mary Mott knew she was going to be honored at the East Hampton Ambulance Association’s annual awards dinner on Saturday for having answered a record 6,000 calls during her 27-year career.
But she, and the rest of the people who attended the event at the Maidstone Club, didn’t know that the outgoing ambulance chief, Mary Ellen McGuire, and the other officers with the association had another surprise in store for the longtime volunteer: the renaming of the association’s conference room as the Mary Mott Conference and Continuing Medical Education Center.
Ms. McGuire said that typically the association would only bestow such an honor posthumously, but the officers thought it fitting now to acknowledge Ms. Mott not only for the number of calls she has answered, but for her longtime service as an officer as well as an instructor of E.M.T. and continuing education courses.
“Not only is she an overachiever, but she’s a leader,” Ms. McGuire said.
In an interview on Sunday, Ms. Mott compared her record to that of Cal Ripken, the former Baltimore Orioles star, who played in 2,632 straight games. “It’s just steady Eddie. You go on calls when you have time,” she said. “You fit them in. You chip away.”
Ms. Mott joined the department in 1986. “I was just talking with a person who said her mom and dad were in the ambulance association, and I said I thought I’d like to join,” she said. “The next thing I had an application in my hand.”
Ms. Mott, who retired in 2007 after a 33-year career as a health and physical education teacher at the Montauk School, became an advanced emergency medical technician in 1989 and eventually became an E.M.T. instructor. She is currently teaching an E.M.T. class in Sag Harbor that meets two days a week. It began right after Labor Day and will continue until March. In her spare time she teaches continuing education and refresher courses for her East Hampton colleagues.
During her career, she has also served two three-year terms as chief and two terms as assistant chief.
Ms. Mott said she wouldn’t have been able to dedicate as much time to the ambulance if it weren’t for the cooperation of her husband, Bill. “He could pick up the kids at school when I was on a call,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Today, she added, even her grandchildren understand that her volunteer service “is part of who I am.”
Nonetheless, Ms. Mott said the days of an all-volunteer department are numbered. “Paid positions are coming down the line,” she said, pointing to changes taking place in neighboring departments.
“It’s getting more and more difficult, time-wise. It can be two hours for a call and people can’t get off from work,” she said. “We tend to have more times where calls have to go to mutual aid to another district.”
Plus, she said, “the department is getting older. You see those signs all around looking for volunteers. And with the high cost of living here, if you have a family, it is really difficult.”
“It’s a great honor to be recognized by your peers and know that they have respect for you,” she said. “It’s a great feeling to know you can help your community in such a positive way. It’s something I would have never found out if I didn’t fill out the application and turn it in.”
Ms. Mott was not the only member to be honored on Saturday night. Ian Hoyt received the Chief’s Award for setting a good example, having a good attitude, being dependable, showing good judgment, having team spirit, and longevity. Qui Que Araya was named the member of the year.
The No Problem Award went to Dan Reichl for his willingness to cover for the members and help out at association functions. Dave Weaver was honored for his dedication to the tactical ambulance, a new effort among local ambulance companies to provide a first-responder unit that crosses district lines to reduce response times.
Florence Stone and Teresa Lawler were given a PR Award for creating public service posters that sought to educate the public about when it is appropriate to call an ambulance.
Kerry Griffiths, who has served 36 years, and Rosita Medler, who has been with the association for 31 years, received special Years of Service awards. Also honored were John and Pat Ryan, 30 years; Mr. Reichl and Mr. Weaver, 25 years; Lisa Charde, 15 years; Ms. Araya, Tracy Hillman, Ms. Lawler, Paul Mangano, and Diane O’Donnell, 10 years, and Ian Hoyt, Laura Reid, and Vickie Walter, 5 years.
Ms. Ryan was honored for having answered 4,000 calls; Mr. Griffiths, 3,500; Lenny Schaefer, 3,000; Ms. O’Donnell, 2,000; Ms. Araya, Ann Grabowski, and Ms. McGuire, 1,500 calls, and Samone Johnson and Laura VanBinsbergen, 500 calls.
Ms. McGuire has completed her term as chief and will be replaced in that position by Ms. O’Donnell, who was assistant chief. Debbie Field will become the new assistant chief. Ms. Charde will be replaced as captain by Ms. Mott, and Tony Matos will stay on as lieutenant.