SUMMIT, NJ - Mayor Ellen Dickson has issued a Proclamation designating September as "Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad Month". Dickson recognized the squad's 52 years of outstanding service to the community, and congratulated the members on a successful capital campaign to build a new headquarters building.
Squad President John Christmann, along with Captain John Staunton, accepted the proclamation on behalf of the squad’s 104 volunteer members. Christmann also took the opportunity to thank the Mayor, members of Council, and the residents and business owners who supported the Squads new building project, on which he reported that construction is underway and expected to be complete by the spring.
The First Aid Squad also recognized Chip Duane from the Salerno-Duane Auto Group for his generous donation of office and garage space behind his Broad Street Ford dealership. The First Aid Squad has been operating from this temporary headquarters since late May.
“The First Aid Squad’s mission is a critical 24-hour, 365 day a year operation” said Staunton. “Suspending or reducing our service during construction was simply not an option”. Christmann added, “Renting commercial space was an expense beyond our budget and without Chip’s help, we may not have been able to move forward with this project”.
The Summit First Aid Squad building, which for 50 years stood across Elm Street from Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, was demolished during the summer to make way for a new Squad headquarters.
The old building was originally completed in 1964 to house the First Aid Squad and it’s two Cadillac ambulances, and expanded in 1978 to include a garage for a third ambulance. In 2006, the Squad added a first responder vehicle, and in 2011 a fourth ambulance, both of which have been parked outside.
As the squad’s mission grew and the building began to wear, it became apparent a new building would be needed.
The original building hosted countless CPR , first aid and safety classes for squad members, City employees, school, and scout groups and the general public. It was also an approved training site for the state Emergency Medical Technician program. It served as a staging area for several large incidents and as temporary emergency room during a fire at Overlook Hospital.
Much of the original construction work, as well as many of the repairs and renovations over the years, were performed by volunteers, and some of the long-time members were sorry to see the old building go. Those feelings of nostalgia quickly pass once reminded about the lack of space and habitually leaking flat roof. During the past 30 years, the roof was replaced four times and repaired on many other occasions.
After several years of planning, a capital campaign to raise funds for a new building was launched last year, and thanks to the generosity of the Summit community, ground was broken for the new building in June with construction proceeding nearly on schedule. The project is being managed by J.R. Prisco Construction and Engineering of Summit.
The First Aid Squad is funded entirely through private donations, and Dickson encouraged all to support the First Aid Squad’s annual fund drive effort which launches next week, and is used to support day-to-day squad operations.
Squad volunteers answered over 2,100 calls for help last year and since 1962 neither their patients nor the taxpayer has ever received a bill. "With the continued support of the Summit community, we hope to keep it that way for many years to come" said Mr. Staunton.
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, please call 908-277-9479, or visit their web site at: www.summitems.org.