SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ  -- Members of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad are your neighbors. Our organization consists of men and women, teenagers and senior citizens, who devote their time to helping others.

When did you join the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad? How old were you?
I joined in May 2008 when I was 16 years old.

What inspired you to join?
When I was younger I wanted to pursue medicine and wanted to experience the various aspects of providing care. Before joining the squad, I used to volunteer at the former Muhlenberg Hospital and after spending a year there wanted to make a greater impact in patients’ lives and help the community as a whole. Joining the squad when I was old enough seemed like a natural progression for me. 

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How many years have you been actively riding?
I’ve been actively riding for the past 12 years. My participation dwindled a bit when I was in college, but I always made time to come back and give some hours during the school year, especially when we had standbys or special crews like snow crews. 

What do you like about it?
In the beginning, it was just about gaining some experience and helping the community the best I could, but my purpose with the squad evolved the longer I stayed involved. Through training and experience, we have skills that can help others during the toughest days of their lives. Additionally, I like the fundamental mission of the SPRS where we help people in a medical emergency and never send them a bill. In today's expensive medical world, it’s reassuring to know our efforts mean those that need medical assistance have one less bill to worry about. The need for volunteers has especially been highlighted during this pandemic. This is the best avenue to help the community I grew up in. 

What’s your most memorable call?
One of the hardest calls to deal with are those that involve children, and the younger they are the harder it is. The first pediatric call I had was for a 14-day-old unresponsive and I feared the worst. I went on scene and a frantic new mother put that child in my hands, who immediately started crying. In our world, a crying child is one that is breathing and has an open airway, both of which are great signs. I don't remember the rest, but , I will never forget my relief when I heard those cries and the mother's face slowly lighting up.

Do you hold or have you held any officer positions? If so, which one(s)?
I’ve been the Cadet Supervisor, heading the cadet corps, for the past few years. I’ve also held the positions of Trustee and Vice President. 

What is your paid profession?
I’m an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology and Biomedical Engineering (University Professor) and also serve as a co-founder and chief technology officer of a biotech startup. 

Why should someone volunteer with our squad?
There are plenty of ways to help your community and neighbors. Our squad is one of the best ways to do so. The pandemic has shown how the healthcare system has be overwhelmed. Every single call we take is less stress on the paid services and more ambulances that are available to help all the people. The number of people volunteering across the United States has been decreasing over the last decade and there is a national shortage. If you have always wanted to donate some of your time and are looking for an opportunity, our doors are always open for new volunteers. 

Please consider joining our team on its life-saving mission, and making our community a better place to live and thrive. Reach out if you would like to join your neighbors and become a part of our organization. Visit www.scotchplainsrescuesquad.com, email us at scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com, or call 908-322-2103.

Editor's Note: Contributing author Susan Baldani is a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

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