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

Marc Schnitzer, EMT, 2nd Lieutenant, member since 2015

Why did you join the BHVRS?

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I joined the rescue squad because it was something I had always been interested in but never took the next step to get information about membership. Three years ago, I visited their table at the street fair and chatted with a few of the members, which gave me the push I needed to finally take the initiative to join. I can honestly say it is one of the best decisions I've ever made. Through the BHVRS, I have met new people and learned more about our town, but most importantly, it’s an empowering feeling to have the ability to help those in need at any given point in time.

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

Being nervous at first is normal, and it's ok to admit it!  A new member will always be riding with an experienced crew, and will gradually learn about our ambulances, the equipment, and of course, prehospital patient care.  It's a wonderful learning experience, regardless of your professional background. You don't need to have a background in health care to join us!

What has been your most memorable moment? 

Many of my most memorable moments have come outside of the patient care component of our work.  I provide countless hours of outreach to our local public schools, and I always get a kick out of my children's and their friends’ reactions to seeing me provide a talk at their schools - "Hey...It's Abby's Dad!"  or "Look...Reid's Dad is here!" 

What has surprised you most about being on the BHVRS?

How much I've learned in a short amount of time and how much I continue to learn on each shift I ride.  I'm also constantly reminded that emergency medical services is much more than just a ride to the hospital.  When a patient has a medical emergency and calls 911, an extremely coordinated response goes into place, often involving multiple first responders. I never realized how coordinated an effort this actually is until being a part of it.

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

Like anything else, skill requires practice, and training is ongoing. When someone first joins the squad, we'll give them a foundation to build their skills.  After some time, the new member can take the EMT class, where members will learn in detail how to make assessments and care decisions based upon the situation and resources available. The class is hard work, but the sense of accomplishment at the end is worth it, and we will support you every step of the way!

Visit the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad website for more information.