MILLSTONE: Volunteers sought for First Aid Squad

The Millstone Township Volunteer First Aid Squad is looking for members who want to help their community.

by Jane Meggitt, Special Writer
MILLSTONE —The Millstone Township Volunteer First Aid Squad is looking for members who want to help their community.
   Anyone who lives or works in the township is eligible to apply to participate in this rewarding and important volunteer task.
   According to MTVFAS president Melina Maritato, the volunteer First Aid Squad has been around since 1954.
   ”There have been lots of changes and lots of population growth which means a way higher call volume,” Ms. Maritato said, estimating that the squad answers about 400 calls a year.
   Right now, the MVFAS is down to about seven or eight active members, she said.
   ”Without a healthy volunteer squad the township will have to look into hiring a paid crew, which translates into an ambulance ride that will no longer be a free ride,” she said.
   Captain Petronio Zalamea noted that not all residents realize the MTVFAS is a 100 percent volunteer squad.
   ”Some people think that we are part of the fire department and that our budget is part of the Millstone Township Fire Department’s budget,” Capt. Zalamea said. “We do not charge for our services, but rely on the generosity of the community and a stipend from the town. When the pager sounds, we drop whatever we are doing to answer the call, if we are home.”
   He acknowledged that volunteering for the first aid squad isn’t for everyone.
   ”We deal with people who are often having the worst day of their lives. People get upset, worried, angry, sad, quiet or violent,” he said. “Whatever the situation, it takes a lot to remain composed.
   ”It can be especially difficult when dealing with a parent frantic over their injured child,” he added.
   The MTVFAS once relied heavily on the stay-at-home mothers, local farmers and businessmen.
   ”Today, most of us work outside of town, and often both parents work. We are lucky if we can recruit a new volunteer that sticks around for more than a year,” he said. “As our members grow older and move on with their lives, the number of responding members decreases.”
   First Lt. Gary Borsuk said that after a potential member fills out an application, the MTVFAS conducts a background check for felonies.
   Next on the agenda is a free advanced CPR class. Once the trainee passes the class, he or she may ride on the ambulance with two certified emergency medical technicians.
   Lt. Borsuk noted that a time commitment of 12 hours per week “on duty” is required.
   ”This means you are available to answer any 911 calls while on duty,” Lt. Borsuk said.
   After three months of active duty, the MTVFAS sends the volunteer for training to become a state certified EMT.
   ”This involves approximately 150 hours of classroom and hands-on training,” he said.
   Once EMT certified, the trainee becomes a probationary member. Then, after 75 calls and active status, the probationary member becomes a voting member.
   Lt. Borsuk pointed out that at least twoEMTs are required on the rig when it is in service, so no one is out there on their own.
   ”There are perks to being a member, such as free education, length of service awards program – a retirement plan based on service – and waived township fees.
   ”However, it’s hard to put into words how it feels to know you have made a difference in someone’s life,” he said.
   For more information, call 732-446-3080 or email volunteer@millstonefirstaid.org