By: Edir Coronado
Across America there are community members who answer the call for help from their fellow citizens and invest their time for the betterment of othrs. The EMT volunteers of Berkeley Heights have been doing this since 1942 and have been keeping the community safe. If needed, they offer assistance to surrounding towns like New Providence and Long Hill Township, and others.
Their service area extends down to Route 78 and, no matter what the time, these local heroes are always available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are at their best, when others might be at their worst.
The Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad (BHVRS) is an essential part of the community and provides services free of charge, where some cities send a bill to their patients. The medical equipment used by the Squad is primarily paid for by tax-deductible donations. According to the Berkeley Heights Municipal website, the town has a population of 13,345 and is about 6.3 square miles. BHVRS responds to over 800 phone calls a year. EMT members who are over the age of 18 and are certified by the State of NJ, dedicate an average of 12 hours a week, plus two 6-hour weekend shifts. Although these hours are required to be an EMT within the rescue squad, whenever a member is called on for extra hours, they rarely say no.
Younger members, under the age of 18, are classified as cadets, even if EMT certification has been acquired. Nicole Segalini, of Berkeley Heights, a high school student who is a certified EMT cadet at the Rescue Squad, decided to join in January of this year. Nicole, who is fascinated by the medical world, was encouraged to join by the Rescue Squad Chief, Samantha Lloyd. Nicole earned her EMT certification at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, where a minimum of 150 hours of classes are required. She is looking forward to becoming a full member after she graduates from high school. Currently she is required, like all cadets, to dedicate a minimum of 3 hours a week. Some cadets, like Nicole, take on weekend shifts also. Nicole, for example, rides up to 6 hours a week.
When first joining BHVRS every member needs to take a first aid and a CPR class for the Professional Rescuer. These classes are provided by BHVRS member and Vehicle Lt, Bill Schulz, a certified American Red Cross instructor. This allows members to ride on the ambulance and respond to calls. Once a month Bill and Samantha organize cadet meetings where they hold training sessions, providing recruits with scenarios that the cadets may not have seen. Any member wishing to become a NJ certified EMT must attend/pass a state certified basic EMT course and pass the state exam.
The Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad is a focal point in the community, not only providing medical treatment when needed, but also participating in local community events such as 5K races, the Holiday Tree Lighting and Winter Walk, GL football games and visits to various BH schools. This year the Rescue Squad attended the Mount Carmel Festival and Bikers for Brooke, a yearly motorcycle ride in memory of Brooke Healey held to help raise awareness for her rare tumor, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG.
Currently the Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad has approximately 20 full-time members, 10 associates, and 8 cadets. While the Rescue Squad has a group of well trained professional EMTs, they are always looking for citizens too step-up and join the squad to help keep this great organization alive. The Rescue Squad is not only looking for volunteers to ride on the ambulance and provide care for those in need, but are also seeking Auxiliary members, those who just want to help out BHVR, but don’t want to become EMTs.
For more information about how you can help the Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad or to apply please visit www.bhvrs.org, or call 908-464-1141, and like them on Facebook too!