MONTVILLE, NJ - Peter Greendyk has been a member of the Montville Township Volunteer First Aid Squad for almost eight years. He is now president of the squad and says it is like being a choir director.
“You are in charge of all the parts and have to pull all the parts together in order to coordinate a good program,” said Greendyk. He said that he needs to be the face of the squad to the town, be a mediator, run meetings, keep the squad focused on its main goal, which is to help people, and deal with many different personalities. He said that in an emergency situation his greatest talent is that he has the ability “to calm people.” “We must put our shoulders together and help people in need, and the first step is to calm them,” added Greendyk.
Greendyk is a natural for this position. He has been a teacher for 27 years at the Netherlands Reformed Christian School on Jacksonville Road in Pompton Plains. As a teacher, he wears many hats. He works with guiding students on class choices, careers, and colleges. He teaches six classes a day from grades 5 through 12. He teaches physical education and business classes and has been choir director. He teaches religious studies and serves as vice principal in charge of discipline. Greendyk also is a certified CPR instructor for the American Heart Association.
The Montville Township First Aid Squad is celebrating its 50 years of dedicated service to the community. Greendyk told stories about the development of the squad. Montville Township had been served by Boonton until 1964. Because there was a need for their own squad and since the population of Montville was increasing, it was necessary that Montville have its own squad. The first official call was to the Alpine House, a former Montville restaurant, for a dog bite. This first call is framed and displayed at the first aid squad on 137 Changebridge Road, along with other memorabilia. The squad had a big 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, Sept. 2 with an open house, barbeque, and games.
Greendyk grew up in North Haledon in Passaic County and went through the public school system. He went to Manchester Regional High School and then to Pace University, where he took courses in business, finance, and public relations. After three years working in Manhattan, he decided business was not for him. He then went to William Paterson, where he got his teaching degree in social studies.
Living in Boonton before he and his wife, Barbara, moved to Montville in Dec. of 1996, Greendyk explained that his father-in-law, Barney Sweetman, was herdsman for Sisco Dairy and lived in the farm helper’s house on 114 Horseneck Road. In 1974, when the dairy went out of business, his father-in-law bought the house. Greendyk and his wife moved to Montville in 1996 and bought the home. His father-in-law now lives in Fairfield.
Greendyk’s first memories of Montville are when he was ten years old and worked with his dad installing lawn sprinklers in the Brittany Estates area. He said there is a struggle in the township to maintain its country feel. Many new families are coming into the township and expect certain amenities, so there is a struggle to maintain a balance between the older style of country living and the new.
When asked how he got involved with the first aid squad, Greendyk said that he got involved because his son Sam wanted to join the first aid squad’s cadet program. He went to take the CPR course with his son, and he was hooked. He got his EMT training at Chilton Hospital. He said, “I was just shepherding my kid and going along for the ride.” And now, Greendyk is president of the squad and his son Sam is captain.
Greendyk is very proud of the first aid squad cadet program for Montville Township High School students. The cadets volunteer to help the squad. Many students like it and plan to go into some field of medicine. Michelle Soares, the squad’s membership chair, works with Anita Karr, the cadet Captain, who handles cadet membership. “I am happy to say that we have about 12 cadets and a few more in the wings,” said Greendyk.
He also is proud to say that the squad went from ten paid staff members and four volunteers in 2007 to four paid staff and ten volunteers in 2008.
The squad has two fund drives a year. One is in May and the other is in October. Unfortunately, the income from these fund drives is slowly dropping. Even though the squad owns their building, Greendyk is grateful to Montville Township for their direct and in-kind support in providing fuel for their ambulances, landscaping, and snowplowing. He is also grateful to Victor Canning, township administrator, and the Township Committee, for helping the squad obtain a generator for emergencies through FEMA funds. During recent storms such as Sandy and Irene, people with electric oxygen equipment would have to be transported to St. Clare's Hosptial to use its temporary oxygen lounge. Now with the generator, people can hook up the equipment right at the first aid squad.
Greendyk also was happy to say that during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, the first aid squad was able to handle every call that came to them, and he thanked God for this. He said, “In both storms, we never had a crisis,” and that they had three full crews and three rigs ready to go. He continued by saying, “I am proud when people step up to handle scramble calls. They show up fast and know what they are doing.” He added, “That’s what we are here for, and it is a big commitment.” A scramble call is when one rig is out with the crew that is on duty, and the squad receives another emergency call that requires another rig and crew.
As for the future of the squad, Greendyk said that it will be a challenge. They need to be prudent with income, explore new sources of income, and use resources wisely and effectively.
Greendyk was able to make an important change in how shifts are scheduled, and he has said it has helped with membership. He said, “For 45 years, the crew worked 12 hour shifts from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Now they have flexible shifts.” They now offer six hour shifts, and this makes recruiting easier.
Greendyk met his wife Barbara at their church, the Ebenezer Netherlands Reformed Church in Franklin Lakes. The couple was married in June of 1989 and just celebrated their 25 wedding anniversary. They have three children. Sam, their oldest, works for Atlantic Health as a paid EMT, is a police dispatcher in Riverdale, and is a CPR instructor. He is captain of the Montville First Aid Squad and will be going to the Morris County Police Academy this Jan. Their daughter Hannah is in her second year at Seton Hall Law School. Jake, their youngest, is a freshman at Montclair State. He wants to major in accounting and eventually go into law.
As for hobbies, Greendyk enjoys reading and also enjoys binding books. For side jobs, he tunes pianos, installs lawn sprinklers, and is an ambulance driving instructor. As for travel, he has enjoyed traveling west to Yellowstone and east to Cape Cod and Vermont.
He said, “Our first aid squad is really committed as an organization to continue to provide critical service to our township with as little cost as possible, and that is getting harder, but we will keep trying.”
If you are interested in joining the squad, contact Michelle Soares at 973-263-4144. If you would like to donate to the squad, you can send your tax-deductible donation to MTFAS, 137 Changebridge Road, Montville, NJ 07045.