Article I wrote for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in May 2017

May is Rescue Squad Month

It’s rescue squad month, and the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is proud to say that after 80 years, we are still serving the residents of Scotch Plains with an all-volunteer membership. Over the years, many rescue squads have either closed down or have been taken over by a paid service. But thanks to the generous contributions of our community, we continue to carry on the same as we have since 1937.

Even though our members aren’t paid salaries, it takes quite a bit of money to support the high-level of service that we provide year after year. Monetary donations not only allow us to pay for necessities like bandages, oxygen tanks, and defibrillators, but they also mean we can regularly update and buy the latest and most reliable equipment and ambulances. This year, we are purchasing a new ambulance as well as the newly mandated communication devices. Just these two things will total over $225,000. Thankfully, through our annual fund drive, we have had the finances to cover these large expenses.

Besides big ticket items, we also have many other everyday expenses such as maintenance of our building and the cost of utilities. There are also insurance premiums, uniforms, gasoline for the ambulances and fire rehab vehicle, and many other expenses that arise throughout the year.

We hope to continue to provide the best service, even though we have received many fewer donations and much less money over the last few years. Therefore, when you receive our fundraising letter, please consider giving whatever you can to this worthwhile organization.

Besides our monetary needs, we must also have volunteers to staff our ambulances to ensure we can respond in a timely manner. The rescue squad provides all necessary training and uniforms, so there is no cost to the member. Besides answering over 1,300 calls a year, we also stand by at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. In addition, we provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.

Becoming an Emergency Medical Technician not only benefits our town, but these skills can be used wherever you are in a multitude of emergency situations. Instead of just being a bystander calling 911, you can actually save someone’s life. There’s no better feeling than that.

Please feel free to contact us regarding donating or volunteering at scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com or call (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies.

Submitted by Sue Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

Do you like being scared?

I do, but only in a good way of course.  I’m a little obsessed with Stephen King, and also a huge fan of the Walking Dead. When I was fairly young, my father let me watch Night of the Living Dead and ever since then I’ve had a fondness for zombies.  While most kids would have covered their eyes and ran screaming from the room, I was fascinated.

Because of this, I decided to write my own zombie story, which was just accepted for publication by Night to Dawn magazine.  I’m happy to be able to share my “spooky” story with others, and this has motivated me to write more like this.  I’m looking forward to scaring myself (and you) some more with the next one.

Article I wrote for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in April 2017

 

Even in our open society where everyone seems to know everyone’s business, depression is still considered a taboo subject among many people.  When you look on social media, the majority of people seem to be having the time of their lives; posting about successful careers, satisfying relationships, well-behaved children, and expensive vacations.  But as we well know, many of these posts do not reflect reality.  Still, it’s enough to silence people who may think that everyone has it together except for them.

 

Depression can strike anyone at any time.  It crosses all socioeconomic lines and affects both genders at various ages.  Depression is more than just being sad, and you can’t just snap yourself out of it.  It is a long-term mood disorder and leads to a disinterest in things you may have once enjoyed, as well as loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and body aches and pains.  Even performing day-to-day tasks may be daunting. 

 

Depression can also lead to thoughts of suicide.  According to WebMD, “in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. That year, there were nearly 43,000 suicides, and 1.3 million adults attempted suicide, according to the CDC. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people from age 10 to age 34.” Some of the warning signs to look out for can include talking or thinking about death, engaging in risky behaviors, giving away possessions, experiencing a sudden switch from being very sad to extremely happy, and making comments such as “I can’t cope anymore; I want out.”  People used to think that if someone talked about committing suicide, they wouldn’t do it.  We now know that not to be true; this is often a serious cry for help.

 

If you or anyone you know is showing signs of the above, please reach out for help.  You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). If you are a veteran, press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line. Or contact a mental health professional, your doctor, or a close friend or spiritual leader.  If you believe someone is in imminent danger of hurting him or herself, do not leave that person alone.  Call 911 or if able, take the person to a hospital emergency room.  Do not attribute it to someone just having a bad day, or being dramatic.  This is a true medical emergency.

 

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.  In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you.  scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com or call (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies.

 

Author:  Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/scotch-plains-slash-fanwood/articles/scotch-plains-rescue-squad-tip-of-the-month-depr

 

My Own Spotlight

I usually write “Spotlight on” articles for The Showcase Magazine.  For their spring edition, the magazine has spotlighted me!

Susan Baldani started writing for The Showcase Magazine in the fall of 2013. She has always been a fan of the magazine and couldn’t be happier being part of the team.

Through her “Spotlight on” articles, she has not only been able to provide interesting facts to our readers about the towns around us, but has had fun discovering things about these surrounding communities, including her own hometown of Basking Ridge, NJ. Her research has taken her to many parks, historical buildings, restaurants and shops. As a result, she finds herself traveling back to these places again and again, and hopes the readers have as well.

In addition to articles about small-town life, Sue has also written two fictional novels and many short stories. She also writes Tip of the Month articles about health-related topics which are published in local outlets for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad, of which she has been a member since 1992. Many of her articles and some of her short stories can be found on her website at www.mywritingwall.com.

She is also an avid reader and can be found at the local library quite often. When not writing or reading, she works full-time at a language center in Summit, NJ and volunteers with Friends of Valley Brook (a local veteran’s group) and an animal welfare organization in North Jersey. She teaches Sunday school as well at her local church.

Sue received her B.A. in Psychology from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, and her Master’s Degree in Education from Kean University in Union, NJ. She looks forward to writing future articles for The Showcase Magazine and sharing them with our readers. If you would like to contact her, please send an email to suebaldani@yahoo.com.

http://theshowcasemagazine.net/showcasemagazine/warren_edition/articles/meetshowcase

 

The Showcase Magazine – April 2017 edition

The King George Inn
To Be or Not to Be?

By Sue Baldani

Warren is a bucolic town in Somerset County. It is known for its country feel and rustic charm, even though it’s located not far from three major highway systems. Now, this peaceful community is gearing up for a fight to save one of its historical landmarks.

The King George Inn, located at the corner of Mount Bethel Road, Mountain View and King George Road, is a beloved historical fixture with the townspeople. Dating back to the late 1700s, it has had many different incarnations. It was originally built as a private residence, and then added onto over the years to become a commercial building. Before Warren built its town hall in the 1950s, it functioned as a polling place, tax collector’s office, post office and meeting place for town business. It has also been an opera venue, tavern, restaurant and hotel. For a time, it was even a meeting place for church services until Our Lady of the Mount Roman Catholic Church was built and the congregation moved down the road. As stated in the How Old (Really) Is the King George Inn? [From Warren History, Vol. Three, No. 3, Spring 2000] publication, “In 1873 Jacob Blimm, then innkeeper, advertised a stage coach line that ran from the railroad depot in Plainfield to his Mountain Hotel.” The inn was so well known and such a hub in the community that Woodrow Wilson, when running for governor of New Jersey in 1910, campaigned out front.

At the height of its popularity, it was a major gathering place in Warren. With its picturesque views, it was a prime spot for a restaurant and hotel, and had many names over the years, such as Mountain House, The King George, The Inn at Mount Bethel, Vincent’s, Torino Restaurant and Trattoria, Truffles, and Chez Cheese. However, most town people continued to refer to it as the King George Inn, and because it is such a meaningful part of the town’s history, it was included in the logo for Warren’s bicentennial celebration back in 2006.

Due to Hurricane Irene and years of neglect, it is now being threatened with demolition. The most recent owner, Raghav “Rocco” Varma, is a real estate developer who bought the building in 2013. He is now seeking approval from the Warren Township Planning Board to rezone the property since he believes the building is beyond repair and would like to build condos.

A petition to stop the demolition of the building, which has been signed by hundreds of people so far, was started by Max Hayden III, whose family owned the Inn from 1953 to 1988. It reads as follows:

The King George Inn is being threatened with redevelopment which could allow its demolition which would cause an irreparable loss of history as the building has stood for over two hundred years and been used as a tavern for most of those years. We are petitioning the town to seek the restoration/preservation and adaptive re-use of the building as a condition of redevelopment of the property. A team approach to development could benefit both the developer and community by maximizing the use of the land and original part of building while preserving an important part of history. The proposals pending call for its demolition and replacement.

On February 13, 2017, there was a Planning Board Public Meeting to discuss this petition and the board voted 10-0 to recommend the property be designated as a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment. However, since it is privately owned, it is up to Mr. Varma to ultimately decide what will become of the building. But whether that will be another restaurant, condos, or some other entity is yet to be decided.

Some townspeople do believe it needs to be demolished, or at the very least redeveloped. Broken windows and a lot strewn with trash it not what people want to see when entering the town. When asked for her opinion, Mayor Carolann Garafola responded that “a review of the article on the Warren Township website on the history of the King George Inn indicates that the original building was a private home, there is skepticism that it goes back as far as the date put on the Fireplace, and clearly something needs to be done about this building as right now it is an eyesore. This could be a win-win for the new building to be designed and built in the similar style of the King George Inn, go back to being a home for residents, and become a ratable to help the rest of the taxpayers in Warren. The Planning Board will have control over that. The notion that the town could purchase it at a cost of probably close to $1M then renovate it for anywhere upwards of $2M is a tricky undertaking that could be questionable as this will raise taxes.”

Will the King George Inn continue to make memories, or will the memories of the past have to suffice? We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Susan Baldani has a MA in Education and a BA in Psychology. She enjoys writing and in addition to writing articles on small town life, is currently working on her second book. You can contact her at suebaldani@yahoo.com or at www.mywritingwall.com.         

http://theshowcasemagazine.net/showcasemagazine/warren_edition/articles/spotlight2

Baader-Meinhof phenomenon

 

Last month, I wrote about all the coincidences that seem to happen in the books I read.  My coworker Mark, who also proofreads everything I write, pointed out that there is a name for this.  It’s known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.  Since we work in a language school, when he first said it I thought he was speaking another language.  But no, this is what it’s really called. 

 

According to UrbanDictionary.com, “Baader-Meinhof is the phenomenon where one happens upon some obscure piece of information– often an unfamiliar word or name– and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly.”  Basically, it explains that our brains like patterns, and therefore, we tend to notice words and phrases that come up again and again when they fit certain sequences. 

 

However, I’m still not sure this explains some of the coincidences I come across while reading.  For example, when I mentioned the main characters in both books have the name Xander.  That’s still weird to me. 

 

Article I wrote for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in March 2017

Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month – The Dangers of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers

Parents know the importance of keeping their children’s hands as germ-free as possible, and besides hand washing, hand sanitizers are often the go-to choice when water is not available.  After all, these products are purported to kill many different types of microorganisms.  What could be safer?
Now comes some news that these products may also be dangerous for our children.  Just recently, the Centers for Disease Control announced that “over 70,000 children drank hand sanitizer between 2011 and 2014. While some older kids intentionally ingest the alcoholic liquid to get drunk, most cases are much more innocent. About 90% of the reported incidents occurred among children younger than five.”  Since some of these sanitizers are scented and come in colorful bottles, they are attractive to young children.  These bottles are also commonly found in schools, daycares, and other places where children are present and are usually easily accessible to them.
Some of these sanitizers contain up to 95% alcohol, and should only be used under adult supervision.  Most side effects, such as eye and mouth irritation, cough, abdominal pain and vomiting, are usually minor.  However, if enough sanitizer is ingested, it can raise a child’s blood alcohol level very high, resulting in seizures, respiratory issues, low blood sugar, and coma.  In this case, 911 should be called immediately, along with the National Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.

So talk to your children about the dangers of ingesting these sanitizers, and keep them out of reach of small children.  Some companies make non-alcohol based hand sanitizers which are non-toxic, and there are also sanitized wipes which may be more suitable for your family’s needs.
About the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad
The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.  In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you.  (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com

Connections

Most of you who know me well know that I read a lot of books.  It’s almost an addiction.  I read pretty much every night, sometimes for 2 hours or more.  Then, a few years ago, I started taking the train to work and found that I had even more time to read.   Happy days!

So now I have my “home” book, which I read every night before going to bed (and whenever else I can sneak in a break).  I also have my “train” book, which I read while commuting.  Believe it or not, I can always keep the two books straight in my head, and don’t find it confusing at all to follow two story lines at the same time.  The thing that does surprise me, though, is how there is more often than not a link between the two books.  And I’m not talking about everyday themes here.

For example, I was reading a book on the train and Faberge eggs were a big part of the story line.  Then, in the book I was reading at home, someone mentioned a Faberge egg.  Really? How often does one of those come up in a book?  It can also happen with names.  My home book had a character named Xander, and so did my train book.  I mean, come on, it’s not like Xander is a common name.  The two books were not written by same author who just happened to like this name.  Actually, this name annoyed me for some reason; what kind of name is Xander anyway?  And I had to deal with it in both books.

Here is another strange coincidence that happened to me just this morning.  My home book mentioned Vidocq, which is a members-only crime solving club.  I’ve never heard of this club nor come across it in any of my previous books, and I read a lot of non-fiction and fictional crime books.  (As a matter of fact, if you look at my book list under Reading Pane, you’ll see that this is my favorite genre.) Now here it pops up in two books that I’m reading at the same time.  I could go on and on.  It happens constantly and I just keep shaking my head at the happenstance of it all.

Article I wrote for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in March 2017

Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Celebrates 80 Years of Service

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad, the oldest volunteer squad in Union County, will be celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.  Formed on March 9, 1937, it was incorporated on April 10, 1937.  Since then, the squad has answered over 75,000 calls.

It all started with a few people who saw a need for this type of organization in Scotch Plains; Harold Hill, the son of one of the founder members, is still active on the rescue squad today.  The first ambulance was bought used from Muhlenberg Hospital for $250.00.

Today, an ambulance cost about $205,000.00. This does not include all the equipment necessary to assist people in a medical crisis, such as defibrillators, oxygen tanks, bandages, backboards, and radios, to name just a few.  Originally, this ambulance was kept at the municipal building and its members, numbering around twenty, would respond when the siren in town sounded.  Today, the squad has 83 members and its own building purchased in 1943.  After many renovations and additions, this building is now three times its original size.

Back then, members were trained in advanced first aid.  Today, training is at a much higher caliber and active members are full Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) certified by the state of New Jersey who can do everything from setting a broken leg to restarting a heart in cardiac arrest.  Members come from all walks of life: doctors, nurses, police officers, business employees, stay-at-home moms and dads, and everything in between.  The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad also has a strong cadet program, and these 16 and 17 year olds are also trained to save lives.  For others who want to help but are not interested in direct patient care, the squad auxiliary does a great job with holding fundraisers, like the upcoming pancake breakfast on March 26th, providing occasional dinners to our members on meeting nights, and supporting the squad in general.  Anyone 14 years or older can join this group.

Besides responding to calls, the squad stands by at many town functions.  You will see its ambulances at high school football games, concerts on the green, the Italian Festival and many others.  They also give talks and tours of the ambulances to boy and girl scout troops, preschools and any other organization that’s interested in what they do.  In addition, the rescue squad has a large assortment of wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and other medical equipment which it loans out to the community free of charge.

All of these services are made possible by the generous contributions of the Scotch Plains community.  Without this support, the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad could not do what it does so well.  They are Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Working for Pride, not Pay.   If you would like more information on the rescue squad, please go to www.ScotchPlainsRescueSquad.com or call 908-322-2103.

Contributing Author:  Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

Article I wrote for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – Tip of the Month – published in local news outlets in February 2017

Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month – Virus prevention

 

February 2, 2017 Scotch Plains, NJ – Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a very contagious respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. If you are young and healthy, most of the time it will resemble a bad cold and disappear in one to two weeks without any intervention.  However, for babies and older people, as well as adults with underlying medical conditions, it can lead to serious problems such as pneumonia and inflammation of the lungs, which can be life threatening and require hospitalization.

RSV is most prevalent from late fall to early spring.  According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. In addition, RSV is being recognized more often as a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults.” Symptoms often mimic those of other respiratory infections, such as a congested or runny nose, loss of appetite, headache, and sore throat, but then become worse with fever, severe coughing, sneezing, and sometimes wheezing.  Other times, especially in infants, lethargy, irritability and breathing difficulties may be the only noticeable symptoms.  Call the doctor if you notice any signs of difficulty breathing, dehydration, lack of appetite, or a cough with yellow, green or gray mucus.  According to Web MD, “if your baby is very tired, breathes rapidly, or has a blue tint to the lips or fingernails, get medical attention immediately.”

While there is no vaccine for this virus, high risk babies can be given a medication called palivizumab to help avoid it.  For the rest of us, common cold prevention techniques such as frequent hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and avoiding people who appear ill can help prevent this virus from spreading.

Contributing Author:  Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.  In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you.  (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com