Members of the Point Boro First Aid Squad will hold a coin toss on Aug. 25 at Beaver Dam Road and Bridge Avenue, where they will collect donations from passing drivers.
The squad is a volunteer organization that responds to medical emergencies and relies on donations to keep operating.
Money collected at the coin toss will be used to purchase much-needed equipment and supplies, provide training for new first aid squad
members and maintain vehicles and equipment.
“If we didn’t exist,” Squad Captain Andy Welsh explained, “the town would have to go with a paid first aid squad or a private ambulance company."
“And property taxes would be a lot higher,” noted Squad President Vincent Wardell.
The squad sorely needs new members and, for high school students joining, there's a double bonus.
Known as cadets, high school students are able to list their volunteer time with the squad as community service on college applications.
Cadets also receive a $500 college scholarship from the squad and may also qualify for other community service-oriented scholarships.
Established in 1967, the Point Boro First Aid Squad started out as a 15-member operation which made calls in a single ambulance donated by the Point Pleasant Beach First Aid Squad.
The original ambulance was housed in an old public works garage, which was given to the Point Boro Squad by the Point Pleasant Borough Council and the mayor.
Today, the squad has two ambulances, one accident and fire rig, and one extrication rig, as well as its own headquarters at 1200 Beaver Dam Rd.
Paid first aid services or private ambulance companies provide first aid services at a cost and then pass the bill to the patient receiving care.
In contrast, when the Point Boro Squad responds to a medical emergency, the recipient of the squad’s services has the choice whether or not to make a donation to the squad.
“You can choose to pay us. You can’t choose to pay them,” Welsh said of the paid services scenario.
Well-known for its efficiency, the squad also responds to calls in surrounding towns when the need arises.
However, there's a real lack of manpower.
“We’re stretched pretty thin, especially during certain hours,” said Welsh.
Theresa Kasper, a newer squad member with one year of service, said, “The biggest challenge I have faced with being a member is learning everything. So I go on calls and observe, and I help out at the building. And we all do representative work.”
“It’s fun,” Welsh stated with a shrug, “so we do it for the friendship as well as the knowledge and the people we help. We're a social club that also handles first aid calls.”
“And we’re always accepting new members,” Kasper added.
Wardell, who has 38 years on the squad, said, “To remain on the squad we all have to be on call a for certain number of hours. We all have a percentage we have to make per year.”
After 10 years of service, a squad member becomes a lifetime member and can then choose to be an active life member or an inactive life member.
Both types of members receive certain privileges for their years of service.
“And once you go 'life,' it’s like retiring,” Wardell said with a smile.
But Wardell chooses not to retire.
“I just enjoy what I do,” Wardell stated.
Although the squad has been at the scene of such accidents as an
overturned boat in the canal and head-on collisions, most of the calls the
squad receive are local house calls.
“One of the reasons people decide to join the squad,” Welsh remarked, “is because they see us in action on a call and like what they see."
“I think of us as ‘the enigma,’ ” Welsh finished, “because a
lot of other volunteer first aid squads have been closing their doors and going to paid squads. But we haven’t.”
For more information about the squad, visit their website.