The need for a local ambulance service to provide care for the sick and injured was realized by several local residents who returned from the Korean Conflict in the 1950’s. After working to obtain an ambulance, the squad was officially incorporated as Belleplain Emergency Corps on February 5, 1957.
The squad purchased a piece of land of what is now Broad Street in 1960, and this location remains the home of the company to this day. Construction of the squad building was completed through a fundraising drive where $1.00 certificates were sold for concrete blocks, as well as a loan from First National Bank of Millville. The building was completed in August 1962.
In 1970, the squad joined the New Jersey State First Aid Council, and adopted the first aid council’s Five Points training standard in 1974. All members were encouraged to take classes in Advanced First Aid, CPR, Vehicle Extrication, Childbirth, and Oxygen Administration. Since 1987, members have been required to be actively certified by the NJ Department of Health as Emergency Medical Technicians to be allowed to run on the squad’s ambulances.
The squad purchased a variety of used ambulances during it’s first 25 years of service, during which the squad was comprised entirely of volunteers from the surrounding community. Ambulances included a 1950 Buick, 1966 Cadillac and a 1973 Cadillac. The squad responded to no more than 42 calls per year until 1985.
A 1978 Chevrolet Type 1 ambulance was purchased in 1985, as well as a 1980 Ford ambulance in 1986. In April 1996, the squad took delivery of two brand new Ford/AEV Type 2 Ambulances, purchased with funding from both Dennis Township and the squad. At this time, the squad provided emergency response to the Belleplain and Eldora sections of Dennis Township.
As the squad continued to grow and demand for emergency responses increased daily, the squad hired 1 full-time EMT for daytime coverage in 1989, relying on volunteers for the second EMT as well as full coverage at night.
The squad continued to add to its emergency response area as well. In 1988, BEC was contracted to provide emergency ambulance response to the southern half of Maurice River Township in Cumberland County. BEC began daytime response to Woodbine Borough in the mid-1990s before assuming full responsibility in 2001. And in 2006, Belleplain assumed emergency response responsibility for the remainder of Dennis Township.
Due to the increased demand for ambulances, construction of a 7-bay ambulance garage was completed in 2002.
Today, the squad is staffed by full-time EMTs around the clock, operating 13 ambulances and 1 firefighter rehab bus and responding to over 1,500 emergencies each year in Dennis Township, Woodbine Borough in Cape May County and portions of Maurice River Township in Cumberland County.
Dispatching has been performed in a variety of different forms since the squad’s inception. Agencies such as Woodbine Police Department at one time received ambulance calls for the squad, but a majority of dispatching has been done by members of the squad themselves. In 1983, a 5-phone dispatch system was installed in various businesses and homes throughout Belleplain.
When the 911 system was enacted statewide, ambulances were dispatched by Middle Township Police Department until 2006, when Belleplain Emergency Corps became the only privately owned 911-dispatch center in New Jersey. After operating for several years out of a small building that formerly served as a community store, BEC moved their dispatch center and administrative offices into their current building in 2012.
Today, the dispatch center handles all emergency dispatching of Fire and EMS for the Township of Dennis and Borough of Woodbine.
In addition to emergency response, the squad became certified to provide non-emergency medical transports patients requiring stretchers as well as those walking and wheelchair-bound patients in 1993. Today, the squad operates 13 mobility assistance vehicles in addition to the 13 ambulances, handling over 4,000 transports per year.