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Mar 2015

Volunteer First Aid Squads: We Say Thank you!

Volunteer First Aid Squads: We Say Thank you!
By Chris Lundy
A squad was ready to take a photograph. A group of first responders, trained in first aid, was ready to have their picture taken for the newspaper at the Holiday City at Berkeley First Aid Squad building. 
There was only one problem.
They had to go on a call.
Squad Captain George Heffran explained that the crew he assembled had to respond to an emergency. 
This should be expected. After all, the three squads - Holiday City at Berkeley, Silver Ridge Park, and Holiday Heights - respond to 12,500 homes in the senior community. Additionally, they often go out of their regular domain whenever needed. This could be for regular calls or to respond to disasters in other areas of the state.
With the Bayville First Aid Squad, the three squads in the senior community make up part of the volunteer framework in Berkeley Township. They were joined this year by a paid squad assembled under the township’s police department, which operates primarily on nights and weekends.
Heffran said this arrangement has been working fine so far. “We’ve always had someone doing nights,” he said, whether it was Tri-Boro First Aid Squad or Mon-Oc. The paid squad doesn’t charge anyone more than their insurance.
The reason the paid squad was needed was that it was getting more difficult to find volunteers to dedicate the time, he said. The Holiday City at Berkeley squad, beginning in 1974, has 39 volunteers right now. This is down from 50-60. The squad runs rigs Monday through Friday, two rigs a day.  They field about 3,000 calls a year.
Lately, the snow has caused the bulk of their calls, he said. The most common call they get during this time is for falls. Seniors get out in the snow and shovel the walkway, and it’s not always safe to do that. Shoveling snow also brings an increase in respiratory calls.
They converted a transport van into a four-wheel drive vehicle with a plow, he said. That way, they can plow a street to get to a patient.  
Tony Pappagallo, president of the Silver Ridge Park First Aid Squad, said he, too, sees the number of volunteers slipping. 
His squad began in 1982. It has 34 volunteers right now. He said during the winter of 2012, they operated with just 17 volunteers “...and we still answered all our calls.”
This speaks of the dedication of those who remain. “Volunteers are like a dying breed,” he said. It operates 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. They respond to a call, and they could face anything from a lift to a cardiac. “The call comes in as a fall, and you never know what kind of injury you’re going to find. It could be nothing. You just might have to pick them up and make them comfortable.”
The squad also has wheelchairs and walkers that residents can borrow, he added.
How to Help
The squads operate on donations first and foremost, and regularly hold fund drives to pay for equipment, vehicles, and training. Call the telephone numbers listed below to find out how to donate.
Additionally, there are other things you can do to make the first aider’s job easier and to get you the help you need quicker.
One thing any citizen can do, is put a sheet on the front of your refrigerator with your name, insurance information, height, weight, and list of medications. Also, list any other information that would be important to someone giving first aid, like whether you have a pacemaker, Pappagallo said. 
“That makes it so easy for us if a person can’t respond or forgets,” he said.
Another thing that any resident can do is make sure their house number is clearly marked, he said.
To Contact First Aid Squads
If interested in helping out any of the squads as a volunteer or through a donation, call the following:
To contact the Holiday City at Berkeley First Aid Squad, call (732) 240-3933.
To contact the Silver Ridge Park First Aid Squad, call (732) 818-9046.
To contact the Holiday Heights First Aid Squad, call (732) 505-6900. A representative from Holiday Heights could not be reached by press time. In case of emergency, call 911.
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