Overlook Hospital provided the first ambulance to serve Summit. This was established as a means of transporting infirmed to the hospital and occasionally used to return them home. The unit was staffed by the hospital security guard sometimes accompanied by an orderly. This unit was dispatched only at the request of a physician or the police. It was only transportation. No first aid of any kind was administered. In the 50’s the Summit Fire Department purchased an ambulance which was staffed as needed by 2 firemen. Although they had very little in the way of first aid training, the firemen did their best to transport victims of accidents and sudden illness. This unit never had a dedicated crew, so firemen had to be pulled from an engine or truck to staff it. During a fire, this unit was generally not available. As a result, the Fire Department began to look for an alternative to providing this service.
By the mid 1950’s most surrounding towns had first aid squads operated by volunteer organizations. Because neither the Fire Department nor Overlook’s ambulance were reliably available on a 24-hour basis, the Summit Police began to request assistance from the Chatham Emergency Squad and Millburn-Short Hills First Aid Squad. In 1961, the Chatham and Millburn groups expressed their dismay at the number of calls to Summit. The City estimates that it would have to hire at least 3 additional full-time firemen in order to properly staff an ambulance.
Two Summit women, Sis Barker and Betty Bangs, who were members of the Junior League (at the time the Junior League of the Morristown, Summit Unit) decided to start a First Aid Squad in Summit. With the blessing of the Junior League, they began their project and enlisted the help of a local Businessman, Michael J. Formichella. Mr. Formichella used his influence in the community to help organize the Squad. On July 28, 1962 the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad, Inc. was formed.
Overlook Hospital donated its old ambulance which the squad operated for a few months until it was able to purchase a new Cadillac ambulance. For the first 2 years, the ambulance was housed in a garage owned by Mike Formichella on Broad St. Members met and trained in their homes.
A building fund was organized to construct a headquarters for the new Squad. Overlook Hospital offered to donate a piece of land on Beavoir Ave. (the site of the current Emergency department entrance), but this site was deemed unusable due to the high cost of excavating the solid rock there. The City of Summit agreed to lease a piece of land on the Summit Ave. extension, across from the Junior High School (now the Middle School), to the Squad for $1.00 per year. Much of the work on the building including excavating, plumbing, heating and electrical was either donated or performed by volunteers. Among the charter members of the Squad were an excavator, Mike Formichella; a mason contractor, Andy Soccodato; and a heating contractor, Jim Burns. Construction was completed in 1964.
The Summit First Aid Squad today has over 90 active members and answers more than 2,000 calls for help each year. The Squad operates 3 ambulances, a first responder/scene support unit, a special operations trailer for major incidents and an EMS bike team. The technology, level of care, and training have increased significantly over our 50 year history. But one thing that has not changed is our commitment to delivering quality patient care at no cost to the residents and visitors to Summit.
July 28, 2012 marked 50 years of service by the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad. As part of the recognition, the Squad launched a capital campaign to replace the aging building that had served as its home since 1964. Thanks to the generosity of Summit residents and local businesses, the fundraising goal of $5 million was met in less than 2 years and in June of 2014 the Squad began construction of a new headquarters.
During construction, the squad operated from temporary facilities behind Salerno-Duane Ford on Broad St. that were generously donated by Chip Duane. The Squad moved into the new building in July of 2015.
In October of 2015, the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad received the EMS Squad of the Year award from the NJ Emergency Medical Services Council.
A Timeline of the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad
1970 – Squad started Junior Member program open to high school students 16-18
1976 – A custom ambulance, purchased from Summit Truck Body, is the Squad’s first truck style unit. The Squad keeps both of its Cadillacs in service and now operates three ambulances.
1978- Squad purchased a second truck style ambulance. There is no room at headquarters for all 3 units, so the remaining Cadillac is housed at the Fire House.
The Far Bay addition to the Squad building allows all 3 ambulances to be housed in headquarters.
Four Squad members transport a Summit resident who is unable to fly from Ontario, Canada.
Squad softball team reaches the Mayors Trophy championship game, but loses to the Dept. of Public Works.
Squad purchases a second Braun long body ambulance and sells the last of the Cadillac ambulances to a collector.
A spectacular fire destroys the Masco Sports building on Broad St. and along with it, the garage that housed as the Squads first ambulance.
Squad conducts a large-scale drill on the soon to be opened route 78. Fourteen volunteer victims are transported by ambulances from Summit, Berkeley Heights, Millburn-Short Hills and Springfield.
Squad purchases its 3rd Braun ERV long body ambulance and now has a fleet of nearly identical vehicles. The old Rig #2, a 1978 Yankee coach, is donated to the startup Quakertown Volunteer EMS in Huntderdon County.
Squad launches Industrial Membership program. Three Squad members who are employees of Overlook Hospital are allowed to leave work to answer emergency calls.
The City of Summit renews the lease of land to the Squad for another 20 years.
At the 1992 Overlook Hustle, the Summit First Aid Squad becomes one of the first in the state to provide EMS coverage with EMTs on bicycles.
Squad is kept busy during the Blizzard of ’93. Several shifts sleep at headquarters.
Squad purchases i’s first semi-automatic defibrillator.
Our first defibrillator save. The pastor of a local church was revived from cardiac arrest. He returned to his duties weeks later.
The Squad responds with 3 ambulances and 17 mutual aid ambulances to a fire at Overlook Hospital.
Squad responds to 2 serious accidents and calls med-evac helicopter twice. All patients survived.
First Aid Squad was kept busy with 12 calls. Between 6:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. First Aid Squad volunteers responded 9 emergency calls in the City, 1 non-emergency transportation and 2 mutual aid emergency calls in Mountainside.
The First Aid Squad softball team plays in the annual Mayor’s Trophy game for the first time in 11 years, but loses to the Summit Fire Dept.
The Squad responds with 2 ambulances to a trench rescue incident at the site of the new home construction project on O’Shea Pl. in Summit. A trapped construction worker is freed and transported to an awaiting med-evac helicopter at Tatlock field.
The Fire first responder program, a joint effort of the Summit Fire Department and Summit First Aid Squad, is started as 1-year experiment.
The fire first responder program gets it’s first real test. Firefighters start CPR and are relieved minutes later by Squad members who successfully revive the patient with a semi-automatic defibrillator.
Three Squad volunteers transport a local resident via ambulance to a long-term care facility in Vermont.
The Summit First Aid Squad softball team wins the Mayor’s Trophy by defeating the Summit Fire Department.
Bike Team assists Police in a successful search for a missing person.
After dealing with the effects of Hurricane Floyd in Summit, squad members respond to assist with the disaster left by the storm in Bound Brook.
The Summit Squad send 2 ambulance crews to a tragic dormitory fire at Seton Hall and treats the 2 most serious patients. 6 Summit First Aid volunteers receive an award for outstanding service.
The Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad is selected by the State Department of Health and the State EMS Council as New Jersey’s EMS Volunteer Agency of the Year.
In the largest response in Squad history, 49 volunteers answer the call to mobilize for the World Trade Center attack. Hundreds of patients are evaluated and 64 decontaminated at the Summit train station. 2 Summit crews respond to New York and 2 more over the next 3 days. 19 members receive a citation for service at ground zero. Ian Thompson, an active Squad member is lost in the attack.
Squad membership surpasses 100 for the first time!
Squad completes one of its largest projects, distributing a Vial of Life kit to every household in the City.
The Summit First Aid Squad softball team plays the Police Department and wins it’s 2nd Mayor’s Trophy.
The Summit First Aid Squad was selected to participate in a 50 ambulance New Jersey task force to respond to the Gulf region following Hurricane Katrina.
The Summit First Aid Squad adds a 4th vehicle to its fleet. EMS 4 is funded through private grants and serves as a first response, scene support and incident command vehicle.
The Squad builds a Special Operations trailer with specialized equipment for use at fire scenes and mass casualty incidents. The Squad Fire Rehab Response team becomes the model for all of Union County.
The Summit First Aid Squad softball team wins the Mayor’s Trophy for the 3rd time.
The Summit First Aid Squad adds a 4th ambulance (5th vehicle) to its fleet. Just 2 months later all 4 ambulances are used simultaneously to answer multiple emergency calls.
Squad celebrates 50 years of service with a “Block Party” celebration and Open House. A capital campaign to fund a new building is officially launched.
A new generator is secured at put to the test as power goes out for several days after Hurricane Sandy. The Squad remains fully operational and staffs multiple crews during the storm.
The Squad razes its headquarters building in 2014 and moves into temporary quarters provided at no charge by Salerno Duane.
After a year in the temporary location, the Squad moves into its new building, entirely funded with private donations and grants, with the official ribbon cutting ceremony on July 4, 2015.
The Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad is honored as the Volunteer EMS Agency of the Year by the EMS Council of New Jersey.
The Squad remains fully operational during the COVID-19 Pandemic and sets new records for emergency calls answered in 2020, 2021 and 2022.