Today starts the week long recognition of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). EMS is composed of trained health professionals that are both volunteer and career (paid). The idea of retrieving wounded people for medical care started during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe between 1803-1815. The concept was further advanced during the United State Civil War between 1861-1865 with the use of the first horse drawn ambulances. The first actual volunteer rescue squad was formed in 1928 in Roanoke, Virginia after a man witnessed a little boy drowning in the river years earlier. Later that year New Jersey got it’s first two official volunteer rescue squads, Belmar followed by Keyport. The Arbor Rescue Squad of Piscataway was the next official volunteer rescue squad and the first in Middlesex County. New Jersey was truly the proving ground for volunteer EMS throughout the nation. Before the local volunteers, if you needed an ambulance you would have to call the local hospital if they even had an ambulance and they would want payment when they got there.
Throughout the nation and even New Jersey you will hear names such as rescue squad, first aid squad, emergency squad, EMS, etc…. You might ask what is the difference? Are some higher trained than others? The answer now a day’s is no, we are all trained the same, some organizations simply offer additional specialized services such as Search and Rescue (SAR), Fire Rehab, Swiftwater Rescue, Extrication (i.e. the jaw’s of life and other tools to gain access to crashed vehicles), and many more things. Traditionally First Aid Squads only provided medical care while Rescue Squads provided additional boat rescue or extrication services when needed.
Some of you might wonder what is the difference between an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and a Paramedic. Well that answer varies state to state, but for us in New Jersey an EMT is a Basic Life Support Provider (BLS) and a Paramedic is an Advanced Life Support Provider (ALS). Most emergencies or transports to hospitals do not require a Paramedic unit, a staff of trained EMTs can more than handle most situations. There are roughly 26,000 EMTs and 2,200 Paramedics in NJ, so EMTs (volunteer or career, local squad or hospital based) can get to you quicker because there are simply more of them. EMTs are fully trained in how to manage vehicle collisions, strokes, heart attacks, shootings/stabbings, CPR, diabetic emergencies and even the classic splinter in a finger or stubbed toe. Paramedics are at a higher level of training and can do somethings EMTs in this state cannot do such as: start IV’s or IO’s, administer dozens of medications, take an EKG of the heart, manually defibrillate and insert an a ET tube to secure someone’s airway. Both EMTs and Paramedics go through extensive core training, periodic refresher courses, and have to do continuing education courses to keep their certifications up to date.
The Arbor Rescue Squad will be spending this week recounting some of it’s very long history with the public. Much of our history is the history of the Arbor Fire Company which gave birth to our organization and the rich history of Piscataway itself and the surrounding communities. We hope you join us and like our Facebook page on our week long story of 84 years of volunteer service. And please if you know or see an EMT, Paramedic, Ambulance or local Rescue/First Aid Squad, stop by and say thanks or just simply wave or give a thumbs up. We are a humble brother/sisterhood and even a simple random thank you means the world to any of us.
If anyone is interested in volunteering at the Arbor Rescue Squad please fill out and return the Arbor Rescue Squad Application. We encourage everyone to join their local rescue squad and keep our mission of volunteer EMS in New Jersey alive.