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National EMS Week in Summit

National EMS Week is a time to honor local Emergency Medical Services responders and promote awareness of their everyday services to the public.  Since 1974, every American President has signed a National EMS Week Proclamation.  This year’s version of EMS Week is particularly notable, given the enormous challenges facing EMS personnel due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, as well as the heroic efforts being made by so many EMS providers to help save lives, even as they risk the safety of themselves and their loved ones.    

This year’s EMS Week theme: “Ready Today. Preparing for Tomorrow” seems quite appropriate.  Despite the many dangers and difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad have continued to provide emergency pre-hospital care and ambulance transport, while diligently taking the precautions required to stay healthy and able to serve in this environment.  “The challenges have increased dramatically, and some of our procedures have changed in response to them, but our mission most certainly has not”, said Squad President Bob Flanagan.  “Under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable, our members have continued to answer 9-1-1 calls every day and night.”    

Summit EMS volunteers began their EMS week recognition with a salute to EMS responders who have lost their lives in the line of duty this year, including 12 in New Jersey.

The Squad has been the City’s lead EMS agency since 1962, providing basic life support care and emergency ambulance transportation.  Other components of our EMS system include first responders from the Fire & Police Departments, Paramedics from Overlook Medical Center, Emergency Nurses & Physicians, 9-1-1 dispatchers and citizen first responders.  In addition to providing 24-hour emergency services, the Squad’s mission also includes public education in first aid, CPR, accident prevention and emergency preparedness.  

This story also appears in: TAPinto Summit | Summit Patch | Summit Times

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Squad Volunteers Rise to the Challenge

Life for nearly all of us has changed quite a bit in the past 2 months.  And that’s certainly true at the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad.  While many business and services are reduced or closed, the Squad volunteers are still answering calls for help; 156 of them in March.

The COVID-19 crisis has changed the way we answer calls and some of the equipment we use, but no call goes unanswered.  While a few members have stepped back from active duty to protect family members with health issues, several of our college members have returned home and helped to fill our ranks. 

Like most first responder and healthcare organizations, obtaining the personnel protective equipment or “PPE” has become a challenge.  “After seeing how quickly we were using our supply of disposable gowns, we obtained heavier duty reusable protective suits and issued one to each active member”, said Squad Chief Kari Phair.  Volunteers assembled a decontamination booth in the ambulance bay for cleaning after a call.  We have also been fortunate to receive several donations from local businesses and residents that included N95 respirators, surgical masks and face shields. 2 area high schools are among those using 3D printers to manufacture face shield bodies to which a clear file is attached.  When obtaining the disinfection products used in the ambulances became difficult, and the Squad obtained a UV sanitization device; the same technology used by many hospitals including Overlook.  According to Squad President Bob Flanagan, “The safety of our members and patients remains our #1 priority.”

A variety of local restaurants and good neighbors have also been sending food to the Squad. Since the duration for a typical medical call is often much longer these days resulting in missed meals that’s been helpful.  “Our volunteers truly appreciate the show of support from the community”, commented Flanagan.

While the number of calls has risen only slightly, the locations have changed.  With people staying home more, the Squad is seeing fewer car accidents and emergencies at places of business, while calls to a patient’s home have increased substantially.

On April 7, the Summit First Aid Squad led an effort to thank their local heroes: health care providers at Overlook Medical Center.  36 different agencies joined the Summit Squad in an appreciation parade past Overlook.  Summit Squad members participated in a similar effort the following week for St Barnabas Medical Center.

Crew Chief John Staunton, who also serves as Summit’s Board of Health President believes we may have passed the peak in COVID cases.  “We saw a good sign this afternoon when we had 3 ambulances respond to simultaneous calls and none were COVID related”.

This story also appear in: TAPinto Summit | Summit Patch | Summit Times | American Towns

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Summit Millwork Helps Squad

Several local businesses helped the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad put the finishing touches on their new headquarters building.  Among them was Summit Millwork & Supply, owned by Aldo Curiale and his son Nick, both of Summit.  The younger Curiale is also a former volunteer with the First Aid Squad.

Summit Millwork & Supply donated all the custom architectural mouldings used in the building.  Their quality work is especially evident in the Squad’s conference room.  “We allow other non-profit groups to use our meeting and conference rooms and often receive compliments about how nice the conference room looks”, noted John Staunton, the Squad’s Building and Grounds Chair.

“The new building project was the largest endeavor attempted by the Squad and we are grateful to the many who helped us see it through, including the Curiale family”, said Squad President Bob Flanagan.

This story also appears in: TAPInto Summit | Summit Patch | Summit Times | American Towns