OFDES is housed in the Owego Central Fire Station at the southerly corner of North Avenue and Temple Street.
The Owego Fire Department Emergency Squad has been in continuous service to the residents of Owego and, through mutual aid or contract arrangements, all of Tioga County since 1948. Although formed within the Owego Fire Department, the Squad’s initial name was “Tioga First Aid Club”. Presumably its creation was motivated by Civil Defense activity during World War II. It was the first emergency rescue and ambulance service in Tioga County and at that time served the entire County. With the advent of other fire-department and service-club based ambulance services the Squad's name was changed to the current moniker and is abbreviated with the acronym OFDES. Though somtimes called the Owego Emergency Squad, Owego Ambulance, or Owego EMS, around the Village it is known simply as “the Squad”.
The founders of the Squad pooled their personal funds to purchase the first ambulance (a used hearse), equipment (an E&J Resuscitator), and first aid supplies. The time frame was immediately after World War II, and money was tight; so members of the Squad (and their wives) rolled bandages and made cravats. Rolled bandages and triangular muslin cravats were the mainstay of first-aid supplies.
The Squad's evolution from an all male organization to one that is gender neutral followed the times and has been a driver in moving the parent Fire Department's makeup along the same path.
Since its beginning, the Owego Fire Department Emergency Squad has been an organization that does not charge for its services. Our members are volunteers who do not get paid. They spend many hours at New York State Department of Health required training to become Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) both basic life support (EMT-B (basic)) and advanced life support (EMT-A (advanced), EMT-CC (critical care), and EMT-P (paramedic)). They achieve the same certification levels as paid professionals and are equally qualified in emergency responses.
The members of the Emergency Squad are on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. Their family lives are frequently interrupted on a moment's notice to respond to an emergency. They are selfless in their dedication.
Reviewed: 10 March 2016