SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Chris Fuentes, our newly elected Deputy Chief for 2019, joined the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad in 2008, when he was 28 years old. Before becoming a member of the SPRS, he was an active riding member on the Edison First Aid Squad No. 2, where he started as a probationary cadet at the age of 16.
After leaving Edison, he still wanted to continue to volunteer and ended up on the Scotch Plains squad since it was closer to his home. All in all, he has been riding on an ambulance for 20 years.
“One of the main reasons I volunteer is the fact I am truly helping my friends and neighbors. Since the organization does not bill for services and we get no income from taxes, I truly feel proud that we get to help people when needed,” Fuentes said.
When asked about his most memorable call, he mentioned a cardiac arrest call with a very overweight patient located on the second floor of a home.
“Once we had to transport, we had to figure out a way to get him down, while continuing compressions. It took a lot of manpower and a lot of repositioning, but we got him down the stairs on a backboard. I am still wondering, to this day, how we pulled it off,” Fuentes recounted.
Besides being our Deputy Chief, Chris was previously a 2nd Vice President and an Alternate Delegate to the EMS Council of NJ. In addition to his volunteer work, he works full-time in the Training/QA department for a non-profit company that supports people with developmental disabilities.
When asked why someone should volunteer with our squad, he said that “the squad is a great stepping stone for a career in the medical field. You also gain a second family.”
Thomas Snihur joined the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad in 2011 at the start of his senior year of high school when he was just 17 years old.
“I always enjoyed the sciences and had a strong desire to help others,” Snihur said. "I felt the rescue squad was the best way to fulfill both. The opportunity to gain exposure to the world of medicine while volunteering and giving back to my community remains a privilege I am incredibly grateful for.”
Snihur also says that being on the rescue squad is far more than just another activity.
"It has truly become a part of my life. I love the ability to help others and give back to my community which has done so much to help me get where I am today. I also love the fast-paced nature of Emergency Medical Services. EMS forces you to problem solve and think critically, often times in tense situations, which is something I really enjoy.”
Snihur is currently a third-year medical student at St. George's University School of Medicine and is strongly considering a career as an Emergency Medicine physician.
His most memorable day on the squad occurred when he was on spring break from college. A few minutes into his shift, he and his partner were dispatched to a report of a patient with chest pain. Shortly after they arrived on the scene, the patient went into cardiac arrest. They immediately started CPR and transported the patient to the hospital.
Roughly four hours later they got dispatched to a different location with the same complaint - chest pain. Little did they know they would be facing another patient in cardiac arrest. Again, they initiated high-quality CPR and continued to do so until arrival at a local hospital. Snihur wondered if they would ever hear the outcome of these patients.
They knew that they had provided the highest quality of care possible through their training. Weeks later they learned they had saved not only one life, but two lives that day.
“I'm honored to have helped these patients and am overjoyed about their positive outcome,” Snihur said. “I would strongly encourage anyone with a desire to help others and/or an interest in medicine to apply for membership to our organization. The rescue squad offers the opportunity to help others and gain medical knowledge. It is an immensely fulfilling endeavor and for me and is truly an honor to be a part of."
"Finally, we are a family. The constant support and camaraderie within our organization makes us all believe the Squad is a special place,” he added.
Please reach out if you would like to join your neighbors and become a part of our organization. You can go to www.scotchplainsrescuesquad.com for an application or email firstname.lastname@example.org.You can also call us at (908) 322-2103 (non-emergencies only.)