SPARTA, NJ-The Newton Medical Center Foundation held a dinner at Perona Farms on Wednesday, to honor Emergency Medical Service providers. There were approximately 200 in attendance for the first "Heart and Soul-A Community Celebration". It was an evening of thanks and praise for "the people who have dedicated their lives to saving ours," as described by Foundation member George Morville,
The Foundation's Chief Development Officer Megan Sandow welcomed everyone, the first of many to thank the squad members for their service.
Joseph DiPaolo, President and CEO of NMC kept the mood light but did speak with sincerity when he said, "Everyone is rededicated to returning Newton to be a world class facility, so you don't have to wonder where to go anymore."
Tim Schreck, liaison between the Emergency Room and the EMS squads, said "Everyone knows the role of the police and firefighters. This event should help people understand the role of EMS." He explained that "EMS was set up by President Carter in the 70's." In the conclusion of his remarks, Schreck thanked them, "The difference between a live saved and a life lost is a matter of minutes."
Director of the Emergency Department Dr David Stuhlmiller said, "All of you that work in EMS are our community. We want you to feel that you are our community. We want to thank you."
Stuhlmiller also introduced Danny Sisco and Tom Webber from the Milton EMS squad and Craig Testa. Testa was saved by Sisco and Webber when, on May 3, 2013, he suffered a heart attack. All three men described Testa's event as a "widow maker" saying he was "one in a million" for having survived. Having no history or warning of heart trouble, then 39 year-old Testa woudl not have survived, had Sisco and Webber not arrived within minutes and used an AED to shock his heart.
Morville spoke of his personal history with EMS, beginning at a young age when he was hit by a "shiny red Thunderbird." Later his father was saved by a rescue squad neighbor after suffering a heart attack. Recognizing every minutes counts in these situations, when a friend at the foundation brought up the topic of AEDs in 2001, Morville said, "it was never a question of should we do it. The AED program was born."
He went on to explain that the foundation provides the AEDs to non-profits requesting them for half the cost. They also try to get donations to cover those costs. In addition they provide the training for free. The foundation has donated 403 units and trained 3500 people since the AED program began. There have been 44 lives saved by AEDs since the beginning of the program. He finished his remarks by saying, "You are the true heroes."
The CPR Site Coordinator Anne Foster took the podium to talk about the remarkable EMS squads that had saved lives with AED units. She spoke of the Lakeland Emergency Squad Debbie Reidmiller, Stephanie Fritz, Ted Leehstra and Greg Hitpas who made a save using their EAD. Though the patient was not able to attend she sent her deepest appreciation.
There was also the story of Hampton Fire Chief David Korver, who was awakened to a call about an unresponsive female at a very familiar address. He was on his way out the door when the phone rang, a call from his father-in-law confirming what he had heard. The patient was his mother-in-law, only one and a half miles away. Using the AED that was part of the equipment on his chief's car, Korver had to administer three shocks to restore Karen Hansen's pulse.
This event took place on Oct 10, 2013. While Hansen is not yet back to taking care of the horses and goats on their 20 acre farm, she is on the road to recovery.
"When you get trained, you never know who you will be called on to save," shared Hansen. "We were always close but this has made us closer."
The evening was also a fundraiser for the Foundation, with proceeds going to purchase additional AEDs. There was a live auction in which a dozen people committed money towards the purchase of the machines, including five bids for $1000, covering the cost of one AED. There was a silent auction as well.
With new legislation called Janet's Law raising the requirements for AEDs as it pertains to schools and school sponsored athletic events, the Foundation has had nearly 50 requests for machines since 2014 began.
Event sponsors were RoNetco Supermarkets Inc., Atlantic Ambulance, Kindred Hospital, 102.3 WSUS, Emergency Physicians of Newton Medical Center-EMA, ThorLabs, Inc., Cardiology Associates of Sussex County, Dr & Mrs David Stuhlmiller, Easter Propane & Nicholson Family, Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, Lakeland Bank, Morville Agency, A division of Gallagher Bollinger, Sparta Cancer Center and Team Life, Inc.