BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - While policemen and firemen are often thought of first when it comes to saving lives and helping people, emergency medical service volunteers are equally important. For more than 40 years, New Providence resident Howard Meyer has volunteered as an EMT with the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad and on Sunday Jan. 13, he was installed as president of the New Jersey State First Aid Council.
Surrounded by friends, family and colleagues, he was officially sworn in at a ceremony at the Berkeley Plaza in Berkeley Heights. The Council represents more than 20,000 EMS volunteers affiliated with more than 300 volunteer first aid and rescue squads throughout New Jersey.
He also is affiliated with the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps and has served with the Quakertown Volunteer EMS. During his service with the Roseland First Aid Squad, Meyer helped create the industrial squad at ADP, which provided daytime EMS assistance to the Roseland community. He has been an EMS instructor for much of his volunteer career, teaching EMT, Red Cross Advanced First Aid and CPR, and Emergency Vehicle Operations. Meyer is retired from his career as a human resource and benefits consultant, and now works as a 911 dispatcher with the Summit Police Department.
Meyer said he was asked several times to run for president, but never felt the time was right until now. After campaigning throughout the state, he was elected in October at an EMT annual convention. He said he didn’t expect to win.
“I would tell people it’s not over until the votes get counted,” he said. “I’m hoping we’re going to have a good year.”
One of his goals is to fix the volunteer EMT training problem. With the newly revised recruitment programs for volunteers, Meyer said it’s difficult to adequately recruit and train volunteers.
He works extensively with seniors members of the staffs of Governor Christie and the Commissioner of Health. "Both the Governor and his staff have been very supportive and receptive to fixing the issues that are having a negative impact on New Jersey's
volunteer squads today," Meyer told TheAlternativePress.com
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to bring more business-type changes,” Meyer said. “I believe 2103 is the year of the “we” because no one person or small group of people can do this job. You need to get a lot of good people involved who want to be team players.”
Treasurer of the First Aid Council Ken Weinberg said Meyer taught him his first CPR course several years ago. Weinberg said he is truly blessed to know and have worked with Meyer.
“He is...above all very organized,” Weinberg said. “I love him. We butt heads often, but he’s almost always right.”
Ed Burdzy, the Executive Director of the First Aid Council, has worked with Meyer for nearly a decade and said he is one of the most committed and hardworking people he knows.
“I think as president, he is going to do a great job and try to make sure that New Jersey knows what an asset the volunteers are to the state,” Burdzy said.