EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ – Hinal K. Patel passed away Saturday, July 25 in East Brunswick when she was involved in an accident involving a car and an ambulance. Born in Edison, she lived in Piscataway all her life. She was 22.
Ms. Patel “lived a short life, but one that was full of meaning and purpose. A person couldn’t ask for more,” said Spotswood Board of Education President Dulce Branco-Rivera at Ms. Patel’s funeral service today at Franklin Memorial Park in North Brunswick. Ms. Patel’s service was attended by her family and friends and by hundreds of members of her extended family in the Emergency Services units of dozens of New Jersey towns, state and county programs, and medical centers. Hinal Patel’s short life certainly did have meaning, as she is one of very few EMT workers to have died in the line of duty in the past few decades in New Jersey.
East Brunswick Rescue Squad Captain A. J. Steinhart described Ms. Patel’s death as “tragic,” acknowledging the young age at which she became involved with community service. He felt that she was honored by the “camaraderie” of her peers in the first responder community. “This was a tough week for local responders,” said Steinhart, referring to the number of relatively large number of incidents.
Hinal Patel had been working with the Spotswood EMS and was also a summer intern for Actavis/Allergan, one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world, located locally in Elizabeth. She was a volunteer for the North Stelton Rescue Squad in Piscataway and for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. Ms. Patel’s casket arrived at the services today in an emergency vehicle from the North Stelton Rescue Squad, whose members also served as pall-bearers along with her friends, relatives and members of the Spotswood EMS.
A graduate of Piscataway High School, Hinal Patel recently completed her Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University. This fall, she planned to enter a Master’s program in the Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Newark. According to the university website, “The mission of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is to develop scientists who will contribute new knowledge in the biomedical disciplines through creative research and scholarship.”
Fred Beissor, Chaplain of the East Brunswick EMS for the past 5 years and a member of the squad since 2002, described the passing of Hinal Patel as “something new and tragic.” This event was the first line-of-duty death with which he has been involved, noting frankly, “I have no problem if I never have to do this again.” Similarly, Alfred Low-Beer of Kendall Park said that he has been involved with the squad for more than 50 years, never having lost a squad member. He admitted to being “overwhelmed” by the tragedy. “EMS is a big family,” added Low-Beer, referring to the number of squad members present at the memorial event. Low-Beer also referred to another EMT death resulting from a “swiftwater” drowning of a responder from Princeton following Superstorm Sandy.
Reverend John Maltby, Chaplain of the South Brunswick Police and Fire Departments since 1976, also commented on the rare occurrence of a passing in the line of duty. He remarked on the great loss of Hinal Patel: “Someone with her credentials. Every one of us has lost a kid sister this week. I have seen generations come through. We will honor her by the quality of our service.”
After the service, which was attended by her peers from New Brunswick, Spotswood, Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Helmetta, Spotswood, Monroe, Princeton, South Brunswick, Montclair, Hoboken, South River, Highland Park, Piscataway, Franklin, Somerset, Paramus, Sayreville, Milltown, the New Jersey State Police, Montclair State University, Rutgers University, South Amboy, Perth Amboy, and other towns and New Jersey Health agencies, Hinal Patel was escorted from the funeral chapel by an honor guard led by the Middlesex County Pipes and Drums. She was then followed by relatives and friends singing a Hindu recessional. By her side were her brothers and sisters doing what first responders do best.
A community memorial service for Hinal Patel will be held on Main Street and Vaughn Avenue in Spotswood on Tuesday, July 28 beginning at 8:30 pm.