BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Berkeley Heights' squad of 11 teenaged EMS students in-training, as part of the Berkeley Heights Cadet Emergency Medical Service Program, have proven their heroic passion and commitment towards their lifesaving opportunity.
For many high school students, just passing calculus or biology class is a challenge on its own. But some local high school students are not just balancing their coursework during the day, they are training to save lives as well.
The Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad runs a program that not only trains students in Emergency Medical Services, but allows them to respond to emergency calls.
Deputy Chief Bill Schulz started the program six years ago as an extension to the Scouting organizations. Currently, the program is working with the largest class of cadets - with a waiting list to join.
Many of the cadets have an interest in pursuing a career in the medical field, and this program gets them training and experience while volunteering for community service, said Sam Lloyd, member of the Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad and Cadet Supervisor.
The cadets are trained in CPR and First Aid through the American Red Cross and receive hands-on practical training at their mandatory monthly meetings.
High School seniors George Lloyd and Ruhani Mumick, serve as Cadet Captain and First Lieutenant, respectively -- leading the meeting discussions on future service projects and fundraising opportunities.
At each monthly meeting, the cadets receive "practical hands-on training" from their cadet supervisors and squad EMTs that include training of proper methods to move incapacitated patients onto stretchers, back boarding and the stair chair.
Administering medication is off-limits for cadets, but they help the EMTs however possible, for instance, with moving patients onto stretchers, CPR, hemorrhage control, splinting and bandaging, to name a few cadet responsibilities. Their function is to assist the EMTs and other first responders.
The cadets volunteer three hours per week, Monday through Friday, with assigned shifts. It's definitely not for everyone, but the group of dedicated cadets look forward to that anticipated emergency call, and the opportunity to put their training into action and ride in the back of the ambulance.
The call schedule has no regularity whatsoever: a medical emergency, of course, can happen anytime. There is no preparing for when the pager’s high-pitched warning will chirp the squad into motion. Some days, not a single call will come in. Other times, the town’s Rescue Squad will receive several calls in one day.
There are a few cadets waiting for their first call to action, however, most have been on a motor vehicle accident call, or "MVA".
Cadet Captain George Lloyd has been on the most calls and admits the psychiatric call had been the toughest of the 30 he has experienced. With the police being first to arrive to a call, the cadets are not placed in harm or danger.
The experience has transformed the lives of many cadet alums, locals who joined in high school, some of whom continue to be involved with the Volunteer Rescue Squad while on college breaks. It’s immensely rewarding work, volunteers say.
The Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad has set up scholarship opportunities for seniors and currently enrolled college students who come back and meet the qualifications based on their service to the squad, academic performance, and participation in school activities and other community service.
The Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad is staffed 100% by volunteers who live and work in the town, squad crews respond to emergency calls 24 hours per day, seven days a week. In addition, the Squad responds to calls for assistance to surrounding towns when needed. The BHVRS is a tax-deductible organization and is funded primarily through donations.
For more information on the squad or to volunteer with the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad, visit their website or call 908-464-0013 or email Membership@BHVRS.org.