Have you ever wondered who the people were who came to assist you at home, on the street, at a shop, if you needed medical help? The Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad, which provides no-charge, 24 hour emergency medical care to the residents and visitors in Westfield, is comprised of approximately 60 emergency medical technicians and another 25 members-in-training. There are also 30 dispatchers who volunteer to answer the Squad’s phones.
They come from all walks of life, have a variety of occupations, range in age from late teens to early 70’s, are married, single and divorced. Some are parents, even grandparents. In effect, they are just like everyone else except for one thing: they volunteer their time to help their neighbors in a medical setting that requires much training and dedication and often split-second decision-making ability. Following is a brief profile of three current Squad members.
Jon Wong has been an EMT on the Westfield Rescue Squad since 2005. Currently engaged to be married, he is studying to become a paramedic. Jon has taken advantage of the Squad’s scholarship program to advance his education and fulfill his dream of a career in prehospital medical care. Jon says that “the Squad has opened many doors” for him. He has met many people and had life-changing experiences which resulted in an outlook on life in which he says he “is grateful for my opportunities.” While a probationary member, Jon participated in a CPR call that saved the life of a World War II veteran. Jon’s other interests include running, camping and off-roading in his Jeep. He has also biked 25 miles to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research.
Charlie Krueger has been a Squad member since October 2013. Married for 20 years, he is the father of three school-age children and is a furniture maker. Charlie is an avid runner who does not allow 10 degree temperatures to stop him from his daily run in Tamaques Park. For a real challenge, he has run two ultra-marathons (more than 26 miles). Asked why he decided to join the Rescue Squad now, Charlie states that he “has always been fascinated with the emergency medicine atmosphere and it is a way of helping people.” For relaxation, Charlie enjoys playing classic rock on his guitar and exploring the outdoors with his family which includes three dogs. Charlie recently completed the EMT course and has passed the State certification exam.
A more recent newcomer to the Rescue Squad is Linda Heroux. Linda, who began pulling duty in February, was always interested in joining but had to delay it due to work and family obligations. Now with young adult children, two in college and one who graduated, Linda finds herself with more time available and is finally able to realize her ambition. Linda, who moved from Long Island to Westfield in 1985, is most impacted “by those people who have no family or friends to contact.”
The Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad is currently conducting its annual fund drive. Please send donations to PO Box 356, Westfield, New Jersey 07091, or drop off at the Squad headquarters at 335 Watterson Street. The Squad is always in need of additional volunteers for EMT or dispatcher training. For more information, please call (908) 233-2500. For emergencies, call 911.