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Manteca Ambulance District celebrates 60 years of service
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Dana Solomon who pioneered some of the early years of Manteca Ambulance was presented a plaque by current general manager Bill Caldera thanking him for his 30 plus years of service. - photo by GLENN KAHL

A 60th anniversary celebration heralding the successes of the Manteca District Ambulance (MDA) including a long stretch with former general manager Dana Solomon at the helm drew him a standing ovation at the end of the noontime event Tuesday at the Manteca Golf Course.

Solomon, who started with the ambulance district more than 30 years ago when the office was on South Grant Street, said he wanted to thank the ambulance board for its past support,  adding that he will now be working in his new consulting business.

MDA President Ted Simas said when he joined the board it was Solomon’s vision that developed in what the service has become to the community today.  It was all about his continual push and encouragement toward bettering the operation, he added.

“Dana was never shy about needing new ambulances,” he said.

“We have very sound reserves and a retirement system for our employees with no public funding and our community service all came about because of Dana,” Simas said. 

Solomon recalled when ambulance pioneers Oscar Breitenbucher and Ted Poulos drove out to his ranch in 1980 and offered him the job of a paramedic running Manteca Ambulance. Solomon had grown up working with his father in his Modesto-based ambulance company.

“We were known as the South County Cowboys,” Dana said because of their concern for their patients and their immediate needs rather than just transporting them to the hospital.

 It was not uncommon to be chided for their actions, “but we took care of our patients,” he said.

Solomon said he always remembered what Poulos and the board told him when he signed on in 1980 as the integral part of their mission.  

“We give back to our community more than we take out of the community,” Solomon recalled.

Solomon said Manteca Ambulance continues to be less costly than the competitive ambulance services and has worked with its clientele who were not able to pay for the service.

Their medical mentor was a special medic – Modesto emergency room Dr. Werner – who set the tone for Dana and his early-on paramedic partner Bill Caldera who is the current general manager.

His constant message: “Do what you have to do – but do it right!”

He was the one doctor who would often be seen driving out to the scene of a collision in his Carmen Gia to render aid to the injured and to be in support of his first responders.

Brenda Staffen, general manager for the California Ambulance Association in Sacramento, presented a resolution to the MDA and lauded Solomon for his statewide support in lobbying for ambulance services throughout California.

She noted that he had been working closely with the California Ambulance Association in seeking legislative backing and recognition for professional first medical responders throughout the state.