SPARTA, NJ – With 26 new members, the Sparta Ambulance Squad has 96 active members, the highest number “in quite some time,” according to newly appointed Captain Ashley Darnsteadt. The organization held their annual installation dinner last week at Perona Farms.

Though some attendees opted to stay home because of the ill-timed storm, Master of Ceremonies Brad Erickson welcomed everyone and kept the evening’s program moving along.

“It wouldn’t be an induction dinner without the snow,” Erickson said.

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In addition to swearing in the new officers, honors and recognitions were announced.

The Sparta Ambulance Squad members are a busy crew, having responded to more than 1400 calls in 2019, in addition to the many events in which they participate. They march in the township’s parades, talk with people at Sparta Day, cover township events such as the German Christmas Market and Fourth of July fireworks.

Not only were there 26 new members, Darnsteadt said there is a “waitlist for our cadet program comprised of 11 eager high school students waiting for a spot on the ambulance.” 

New Members:

  • Lama Appesh
  • Allison Beltrani
  • Matthew Bouman-Hannam
  • Yasmeen Caswell
  • Aubrey Coombs
  • Christian Darmiento
  • Thomas Dean
  • Sandy Fisk
  • Katherine Fagersten
  • Laramie Kipp
  • Cole Luizzo
  • Jesse Marsh
  • Heather Maxwell
  • Melissa Nolan
  • Waleed Panjwani
  • Devon Scott
  • Charlotte Spelman
  • Canavan Storms
  • Kelly Stevens
  • Davis Rubin
  • Melody Tillyer
  • Daisey Torres
  • Michelle Ward

New daytime staff members: Wes Christmann, Rob Schreiber and Courtney Terwaarbeek.

The EMT of the Year Jesse Marsh, “responded to the worst of the worst calls,” Darnstead said.  While he has 10 years experience he has been with the Sparta squad for one year. 

Darnstead introduced 12 new members who have completed the Emergency Medical Technician or EMT course and passes the New Jersey State EMT exam in 2019. 

“For the family and friends who might not be aware, the EMT course that these 12 individuals have completed is intensive training to become competent in a basic level of patient assessment, pharmacology, medical conditions and more,” Darnstead said. “These 12 members have studied hard on top of going to high school, college classes, working full time, raising kids and living their day to day life.  It is a huge commitment and we are so proud of our EMTs.”

New EMT’s :

  • Lama Appesh
  • Sean Ailara
  • Jenna Blandina
  • Tess Corcoran
  • Kaetana DeGiovanni
  • Kelsi Loewen
  • Aaron Lopez
  • Max Merlino
  • Chrissie Rowe
  • Michele Scaglione
  • Ciera Smith
  • Miriam Ungar

Cadet Captain Amanda Sansone was named Cadet of the Year. Allyson Wright said Sansone was chosen from the 25 cadets. 

“She showed the definition of being a cadet,” Wright said. “She always approaches everything she does with a smile and positive attitude.  She also passed her EMT [exam]”

A Darnstead spoke about the special class of calls regarding CPR.  She said the Sparta Ambulance Squad responded to 18 cardiac arrests.  They were “successful in reviving five of these patients,” she said.

The members who went of each of the five calls were recognized:

  • February 12: David Torres, John McChensey, Amanda Sansone, Michelle Ward
  • February 23: Thom Holovacs, John McChesney, Dave Johnson
  • March 27: CJ Webber, Jon Wong, Thom Holovacs, Jesse Marsh
  • June 17: Brian Bollard, Cliff Cernek, Dave Johnson, AJ Debski, Finn Holovacs
  • August 5: Jesse Marsh, Brian Bollard, Lama Appesh, Cameron Jones

“We thank these members for their hard work and dedication to patient care and team work,” Darnstead said. 

The new officers were sworn in by Mayor Jerry Murphy.  They are:

  • Ashley Darnsteadt – Captain,
  • Michael Lucio – First Lieutenant,
  • Brian Toedtmann – Second Lieutenant,
  • ColleenMcChensey – Sergeant,
  • Arlene Kayne – Trustee,
  • Alexa Griffin – Trustee

Brian Toedtmann recognized members for their long service to Sparta.  

  • Five Years -  Ryan Ailara
  • 10 Years - Margaret Carbery
  • 15 Years - Joe Householder
  • 20 Years - Lucy Katzen, Chrissie Henderson, John Cronin
  • 25 Years - Allyson Wright
  • 30 Years - Erik Aronson

Darnsteadt thanked Arlene and Renee for taking care of all of the details that go into making the dinner run smoothly. She introduced outgoing captain John McChesney.

“John has been an asset in progressing our squad to become more advanced in technology with better patient outcomes, all while saving our backs when it comes to lifting and moving,” Darnstead said as she presented him with the Ex-Captain’s Badge. “All captains leave their mark and bring value to the squad, and this is only the beginning for the future of Sparta Ambulance Squad.”

The outgoing Captain John McChensey gave his review of 2019, as “a member of the retired captains club.”

McChensey pointed to the increase presence on social media as a factor in the increased membership.  New equipment has been added to the squad’s arsenal including two new vehicles, a whole building generator and a Lucas Compression System.  All to increase the squad’s contribution to the community.

The members have undergone 3000 hours of training, McChensey said.  They have upgraded dummies, mass casualty protocols, standard operating procedures have been completely updated and they covered approximately 2700 calls in the two years he was captain.

With the expanded membership, “next year the schedule will look a whole lot nicer.”

Mc Chesney thanked the board of Trustees and officers for working together as a team. He said, “Everyone has been a steady hand. We planned for chaos but there was none.”

Darnstead said, “We all have a reason to volunteer in EMS and bring different strengths to the squad, and I am excited for seasoned and new members to share their strengths with the officers to improve the squad now and for years to come.”