Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad (BHVRS) "Why I Ride" series features BHVRS members and why they chose to become an EMT and volunteer.

Joe Plocinski, EMT, Equipment & Supplies Lieutenant

Member since 2011

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Why did you join the BHVRS?

I wanted to give back to my community. I am a service-minded person.  I have been on trips with my church to repair homes around the country, and I wanted to do something close to home that would make an impact on my community.  

When my son, Matt, joined the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Fire Department, it opened my eyes to the many volunteer needs in our town—the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad (BHVRS) being one of them. I was reading an article about BHVRS one day—like many are reading this one—and it mentioned one of my work colleagues, ToniAnne Gestone.  I contacted her, attended a BHVRS open house and decided to join this dedicated group of caring residents.

What would you say to someone who wants to join the BHVRS but is nervous?

We are here for you—I do not know anyone who joined the BHVRS that was not nervous.  What I did find out when I joined was that the BHVRS was supportive when I needed them.  We will not leave you alone—all you need to do is reach out, no matter what the issue is.  I even have a therapy dog, Morgan, who is an honorary member—and he is always willing to come down to the squad and listen and provide moral support.

What has been your most memorable moment?

The delivery of baby Eva.  We received a call for “a woman in labor.” I have been on a few of those calls before, all of which turned out to be a ride to the hospital for mom.  This was different… in more ways than one. We got to the scene and when we saw mom, I knew we were not going to make it to the hospital in time—this time it was going to be a ride for mom AND BABY!  Our crew prepared for the delivery and within minutes, our second patient arrived. She was delivered by our EMT cadet, Nicole. It was a really great night. Our crew even got to celebrate Eva’s first birthday with her!

What has surprised you most about being on the BHVRS?

How well everyone works together.  We are a family, a little dysfunctional at times—just like every other family and organization—but when we encounter someone in need, any differences we have go out the window and we are a team that works very well together. We are there for the patient, but also for each other when it counts.  

I guess that should not be surprising.  What I really find very surprising is that more residents of Berkeley Heights do not join the BHVRS.  With a town of 14,000 residents, there are only 24 regular members—that is 0.24 percent of the population!  I understand that being an emergency medical services volunteer is not for everyone, but only 24 of 10,000? We have a great need for volunteers who want to and have the ability to be EMTs.

Was it difficult to learn the skills required to become an EMT?

It depends. We all have different styles of learning and areas of interests.  Overall, I would say that it was a challenge at times in some areas. But when you are committed and interested in something it is usually fun and that makes all of the hard work worthwhile.  We all need to keep our eye on the end goal—helping someone. That is why we learn these skills. And, you never know who that someone is. A friend, work colleague or even your own family member.

What is your favorite type of call?

One with a happy ending—knowing that I was able to help someone in need, to lend a hand and comfort them. Although a “thank you” from the patient is always nice, a smile works just as well for me.  Just knowing I made a difference in someone’s life and helped them is all the recognition I need.