LIVINGSTON, NJ — In an effort to recognize the hard work and bravery of medical staff battling the coronavirus at Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC), the Livingston Police Department (LPD) led a procession of more than 50 police, fire and first aid vehicles from more than 20 municipalities in a “Heroes Salute Parade” outside the emergency department on Tuesday afternoon.
In addition to members of Livingston’s police, fire and first aid team, participating agencies also included first responders from West Orange, South Orange, Maplewood, West Caldwell, North Caldwell, Caldwell, Roseland, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Orange, East Orange, Millburn/Short Hills, Belleville, Bloomfield, Newark, Nutley, Verona, Cedar Grove, Springfield, East Hanover, Madison and Summit as well as members from the Stevens Institute of Technology and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Police Departments, the NJ Transit Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s and Sheriff’s Offices.
As Essex County currently has the third-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Jersey, Saint Barnabas has been one of the busiest healthcare facilities in the state over the last several weeks. According to Livingston Police Chief Gary Marshuetz, the staff at SBMC has always been so supportive of the first responders in the area that he felt this was the perfect time to return the favor.
“We know that they are fighting a battle like never before inside their hospital, and our hearts just went out to the staff,” said Marshuetz. “They’re making life and death decisions and trying to save as many lives as they can on a daily basis. They’re always there to support us when we’re sick or injured, and they also support our families. A lot of our children were also born at Saint Barnabas, so we just felt that the timing was right to give them a pick-me-up and lift their spirits and try to help them with their morale.”
Following a performance from bagpipe players, more than 100 police, fire and first aid vehicles drove by displaying signs, banners, posters and flags to pay tribute to the men and women fighting COVID-19 at SBMC.
After lining up on Northfield Avenue, the vehicles traveled down Old Short Hill Road, passed the SBMC Emergency Department and turned into the main entrance of the organization. The vehicles then traveled around the internal circle of the medical center’s front entrance as the workers stood outside reading the heartfelt signs and waving back to the first responders as their sirens blared in thanks.
“An event like this would not be possible without the participation of all the departments and agencies involved, so on behalf of the Township of Livingston, we want to extend a sincere thank you to all the agencies who helped us make this event not only possible but also so successful,” said Livingston Police Chief Gary Marshuetz.
When the Livingston officers first came up with the idea, Marshuetz said he knew the Livingston Fire Department and Livingston First Aid Squad would want to be included. But when he and Livingston Fire Chief Christopher Mullin started reaching out to their other agencies in the area to gauge their interest in participating, Marshuetz said the “response was overwhelming.”
On behalf of the hospital family, John Russo, president of the SMBC staff, expressed gratitude toward all of the first responders from Livingston and surrounding towns that came out to pay tribute to the healthcare workers.
Russo said the parade was "incredibly moving and inspiring” and that it was "a representation of the collaboration and cooperation that is going on across the state and the country as we all try to address this disease.
"We also want to recognize and thank the first responders who are also on the front lines taking care of the community and the COVID-19 patients," said Russo. "The staff at the hospital were incredibly appreciative of the efforts of everyone involved in making this parade a reality. It served as a great energizer for the staff.”
The event was broadcast live and can be viewed again on the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Facebook page and on Instagram at @SaintBarnabasNJ.