Police & Fire

Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad Responds to Area Emergencies in Berkeley Heights, Elizabeth; Unit Provides Rehab, Mutual Aid Support at Scenes of Brush Fire, Gas Explosion

Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad EMS and New Providence EMS on the scene of the Berkeley Heights brush fire. Credits: SVFAS
SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad were among the many mutual aid resources to respond to two area incidents.
On November 27, the Squad assisted first responders at a Berkeley Heights brush fire that covered more than seven acres along a steep hill bordering Route 78 westbound, just below a residential neighborhood.
Firefighters from towns in Union, Morris and Somerset counties responded, and the on-scene commander requested the Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad set up a rehab operation. The Summit Volunteer Squad was requested to assist along with New Providence EMS, with Summit volunteer EMTs Paul Raynolds and James Rath answering the call for help.
On-scene rehabilitation is vital for responders when the incident lasts for several hours as was the case in Berkeley Heights. Strenuous firefighting operations are performed in shifts, and the rehab team evaluated each firefighter before they returned to their duties.
The Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad is well known in the region for its on-scene rehab capabilities, having been among the first agencies to establish such a team, with its members having received specialized training and the unit possessing specialized equipment for the task. Summit volunteer EMTs remained on scene in Berkeley Heights for approximately three hours until the fire was declared extinguished.

Previously, Summit EMS volunteers were also requested to assist Elizabeth at the scene of a natural gas explosion. The morning explosion leveled a two-family home, and severely damaged two adjoining buildings. One person was killed and 13 injured in the blast.
Firefighters from several neighboring towns, as well as a regional urban search and rescue team, responded to conduct a thorough search for additional survivors or victims. The large response lasted for several hours, and required an on-scene rehabilitation operation for the responders.

While the Summit EMS Rehab team normally responds with its special operations trailer stocked with supplies needed for a responder rehab as well as treatment of mass casualties, in this case, Elizabeth needed just manpower, and Summit Captain Kari Phair sent EMTs James Rath and Greg Vartan.
On arrival, Summit’s volunteers were assigned to staff the Medical Ambulance Bus which was used for the rehab operation. Fortunately, there were no responder injuries. Two cats were rescued during the operation, and Summit’s crew helped get them both placed with neighbors. After the rehab operation wrapped up, Summit’s crew was asked to relocate to the command post and stand-by while the utilities were removed and demolition begun.

Providing assistance known as “mutual aid” to other municipalities is nothing new for the members of Summit Volunteer EMS, with the Squad having answered more than 150 requests for mutual aid last year.

The all volunteer First Aid Squad is always looking for new members to join its ranks. All needed training, uniforms and equipment is provided. For information, call 908-277-9479, or visit summitems.org.

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