HILLSBOROUGH: Rescue squad celebrates milestone

It’s been 25 years with paid shift members for the EMS

By Kelly Velocci, Packet Media Group
   Hillsborough Emergency Medical Services celebrated the 25th anniversary of paid daytime crewmembers on Thursday, May 23, at the squad’s original location on East Mountain Road. State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli presented two of the first paid crewmembers with a state Legislature resolution honoring the anniversary.
   Hillsborough instituted paid daytime crewmembers on May 25, 1988, after crew member availability became an increasing problem as squad members juggled fulltime jobs with volunteering.
   ”Sometimes there was no one there to answer the phone,” said EMS Chief David Gwin.
   Previously, Hillsborough had depended on neighboring EMS squads to assist with coverage shortages. But, considering Hillsborough’s 54.7 square miles, it was difficult to rely on out-of-town squads.
   To combat the problem, Hillsborough instituted Somerset County’s first paid daytime crew as an addition to its volunteer squad.
   Chief Gwin said receiving a license to allow a paid crew was a lengthy process. The squad had to apply for a certificate of need from the Department of Health and submit an emergency ambulance provider license. The process took several months, he said.
   Michael Calabrese, a paramedic who worked during the paid crew’s first shift, described its institution as a “necessity.” Mr. Calabrese joined Hillsborough’s EMS squad in 1981 as a junior member and remains an active crewmember today.
   Lori Voorhees, a registered nurse and paramedic, joined Hillsborough’s squad in 1985. She worked on the first shift with Mr. Calabrese 25 years ago. Ms. Voorhees said it was a struggle to juggle her fulltime nursing position at Saint Peter’s Hospital and volunteer at the rescue squad.
   Hillsborough EMS has served the community since 1955. Today, the crew is comprised of 95 members, both paid and volunteer.
   ”I always say leadership is doing the right thing. People who put others before themselves when doing the right thing, that’s exemplary leadership and model citizenship. EMTs and first responders certainly fall into that group,” said Mr. Ciattarelli.