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 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