MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township First Aid Squad gathered on July 11 to honor members with more than 20 years of service.
Joint New Jersey legislative resolutions for the members were sponsored by Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce, Senator Joe Pennacchio and Assemblyman Jay Webber, and were presented to the members. Pennacchio and DeCroce attended the ceremony to present the awards.
Although personalized to each member, the resolutions read in part, “the strength and success of the State of New Jersey and the vitality and effectiveness of our communities depend, in great measure, upon superb public-spirited individuals. [These volunteers] have remained always ready to respond to need, without regard to the hour of the day or weather conditions or personal inconvenience, and [have] worked diligently and selflessly to save lives and lessen injuries.”
Joan Gnall reminisced about her 45 years of squad service, according to a press release from the First Aid Squad, “I can’t believe it’s been this long. When I first started riding in 1972, Horseneck Road was like a dark forest in the middle of the night. My husband Adam would drive me to the Squad House.” Gnall was a former special police officer in Montville with a permit to carry, a former squad captain, and is now a squad dispatcher.
Grace Marshall, a recently retired nurse, came in a close second behind Joan with 44 years of experience. Grace remains active on the squad, riding Tuesday nights for a five-hour shift and serving on both the Budget and By-laws committees. She also served as vice president for many years, overseeing the fund drive. She has served as an emergency medical technician and a crew chief.
Paul Van Steyn has ridden Thursday nights for 37 years, serving as president and on several committees including Rigs and House. He has served as an EMT and crew chief also. He is currently vice president of the squad.
Van Steyn and two of his crew members, Henry Will, who has served 36 years, and Eddie Lopez, an EMT who has served 23 years, have saved the squad thousands of dollars, performing countless hours of mechanical repairs and building maintenance. Will still rides a three-hour shift.
First Aid Squad President Pete Greendyk told TAPinto Monville, “Henry told us he fought a hard battle for many years with his boss who often wanted him to work late – ‘No, I can’t. Thursday night is squad night!’”
Will was an EMT, crew chief and First Lieutenant, and served on the House and Ambulance committees.
“Paul and Henry were among 15 First Aid Squad members who responded with a rig and set up at a Mass Casualty Incident site across the Hudson from the World Trade Center expecting to help injured people on September 11th,” Greendyk told TAPinto Montville. “Sadly, no one came because there were few survivors.”
Coming onto the squad almost at its inception in the late 1960’s, Ed Watters is considered the squad’s first cadet. Watters served in Vietnam as a radio operator, and then returned and raised a family. Watters rejoined in the early ’90s and has fulfilled many functions in the squad, most recently as president. “He’s famous for his Irish wit,” Greendyk said, “and one time after returning from yet another call in the middle of dinner, Ed said ‘Uh yeah, the chicken was as dry as the conversation.’”
Other members honored were former Captain Jerry Goodman, now a dispatcher who has served 31 years. Goodman accepted a proclamation for his daughter, Julie Greenfield, a former lieutenant who serves as a dispatcher but has taken a break from active riding to raise twins. She was honored for her 26 years with the squad as an EMT and crew chief too.
Elena Fletcher, another squad dispatcher, former EMT and officer, recalled that her father, Ethan Janowicz, was a charter member of the squad in 1964 when there was no First Aid Squad building and the old Cadillac rig was parked in her front yard on Horseneck Road. She was honored for 28 years on the squad.
Colleen Turo’s deep commitment to the squad was seen when she took a rig to her wedding reception, Greendyk said, and she accepted her proclamation (27 years) along with that of her Saturday night crew partner, Dave Justnes, who was unable to attend. Justnes was president in 1997. He was instrumental to the construction of the squad building on Changebridge Road, according to the resolution.
Another squad dispatcher, Grace Po, was honored for her 27 years of service along with the chief dispatcher, Marlene Lepore, who for 31 years has also served as the squad mother, shopping, coordinating refreshments, and gently scolding members who dare to put their feet on the sofa cushions, Greendyk said with a laugh.
Former police officer Letitia Huffstutler was honored for her 28 years of service to the squad. She is an EMT and crew chief who still rides with the squad.
“It was an evening of honor and camaraderie, and the squad family is grateful for the continued dedication and service of all its members in providing emergency medical services to our Montville residents, business owners and neighbors,” Greendyk said.