What do a local accountant, attorney, and high school senior all have in common? Well, if it’s between 6:00pm and 6:00am on a weekday, or a full 24-hours on the weekend, the answer may be more than you think!
At any point, those three people could be the EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) riding in one of three ambulances that make up THE WARREN TOWNSHIP RESCUE SQUAD. This group of 40 members, including some college age participants who come back between semesters, is made up of people from every walk of life. These dedicated and selfless volunteers give up countless hours to be there for our township when we are most in need. They are highly skilled, and working for the love of helping their community.
While many communities only have access to paid services, we are fortunate enough to have free, local help just a phone call away. THE WARREN TOWNSHIP RESCUE SQUAD responds to all calls after 6:00pm, and all night long, no matter what the weather or time may be. Over the weekends, they are the ones on call 24/7 for any emergency that occurs. EMT’s are just ordinary people – with anything but ordinary hearts! (On weekdays, our town uses Atlantic Ambulance services, since most of our volunteers are either at work or school.)
THE WARREN TOWNSHIP RESCUE SQUAD is led by Chief Paul Rapps, a retired dentist who has been on the squad for 25 years. Paul has held every position on the executive board, and is always available to cover a shift. His dedication to our township and the squad is evident to all who know him.
To become an EMT, you must first become CPR certified. New “trainee” members are placed with ambulance crews and are permitted to assist the EMTs on “ride-alongs”. They have up to 6 months to decide if they want to commit to the full EMT training program. If so, all further education, uniforms and equipment is paid for by the squad. While in training, a volunteer can be learning vital skills, crisis management and leadership – just by watching or lending a hand! An EMT typically serves on a crew for one shift per week, and is trained to be ready for everything from a heart attack to helping an elderly person back into bed. According to Jane Kelsey, First Lieutenant and 10-year EMT, each of these scenarios is equally satisfying. The squad offers flexible hours and shifts, and they are happy to accept whatever time people in the community can give. If you have a particular affinity for “bells and whistles”, there is also an opportunity for individuals who are interested in only driving the ambulances.
Speaking with Jane and her shift partner of 6 years, Marc Davis, I could not help but be amazed at their deep dedication for this labor of love. Jane first got involved when living in Berkeley Heights, when her children were off to college and she had some extra time. During the day, she is a medical malpractice defense attorney, and grew up in a medical household, as her father was a doctor. Marc, the President of the organization, has been a Certified EMT and part of the team for 13 years. His caring, compassion and drive are evident as he proudly calls this a “Family Business,” alluding to his daughter Molly riding alongside him while still in high school. According to Marc, there have been many parent-child teams, sharing experiences way beyond the normal scope of life.
A high school student, often one thinking of pursuing a profession in the medical field, joins THE WARREN TOWNSHIP RESCUE SQUAD as a “cadet,” working only 4 hour shifts, and longer on the weekends with a parent’s permission. This experience of managing chaos, anxiety, and some pretty scary situations provides one of personal growth that few 16-18 year olds ever get a chance to be a part of.
THE WARREN TOWNSHIP RESCUE SQUAD is on the ground and in the background of more events than most of us are aware of: Graduations, sporting events, the local car show and Expo are a few examples where these hard-working community members are first on the scene, and often the last to leave, only after all of us have gotten safely home. When our town was in crisis during Hurricane Sandy, town resident Jane Ash, Director of the Office of Emergency Management, coordinated with the Rescue Squad, Police and Fire Departments to keep all of us safe and warm. I think we can all agree that they did a great job!
So, how can you help this wonderful group to continue and grow? Most important is to VOLUNTEER! Adult members are always needed, and hours are completely flexible. Second, DONATE! Twice a year, THE WARREN TOWNSHIP RESCUE SQUAD does a fundraiser via mail, but you can donate anytime, or get more information at www.warrenrescue.org.
The volunteers I spoke to say this is the most rewarding work they have ever done -helping others, saving lives, and sharing these experiences with each other. While I know they feel a tremendous satisfaction, it truly is all of us who owe THE WARREN TOWNSHIP RESCUE SQUAD a huge THANK YOU.
If you know of someone in your community who is helping to make a difference in others’ lives, please email Anna at Connectionsnj@gmail.com or call 908-903-1799.