Last year was surprising in a number of ways. In the midst of a pandemic, most people were doing their best to avoid others. So, the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad membership committee was not expecting any new applications to come in for quite a long time.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. Community members came forward to help, while putting their own safety at risk. Even more surprising, many of these applicants were teenagers looking to join our cadet program.
Here, some of these members talk about why they made this decision, and how it has affected them.
Julia Jackson – age 17
I joined the Rescue Squad during COVID-19, which is a scary thing, but also in my mind this was the most impactful time to join the squad. Of course, we are very cautious on calls with preventing the spread of this virus, but overall, if anything, I think this pandemic has just made me a stronger EMT. I love that I can help our community when it really needs me.
Riley Gasson – age 16
Once the pandemic started, I saw all of the amazing work that first responders were doing. I noticed a need for EMTs and I wanted to do everything I could to help my community. Now being an EMT, I find it so rewarding to help people when they are in need. I couldn’t imagine joining in a more pivotal moment in history, and I am so thankful that I am a part of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.
Ashini Bhardwaj – age 17
When I became a member during the pandemic, I was very nervous at first. I was afraid of such a deadly outbreak that had cost so many people their lives. But as I started to get more patients, I realized how rewarding this job was. There needs to be people who help those who are in need and I like the fact that I can try and be one of those. Helping people makes me happy and after seeing many people in pain, I realized that I want to try and at least make them feel a little better no matter what the issue is. Becoming a member during the pandemic is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
TJ Walsh – age 17
I initially looked into cadet programs last year prior to the pandemic, thinking that it would be a good way for me to get involved with healthcare. Once things were more stable over the summer, I started applying again because I wanted to jump in and help wherever I could. All over the news you would see doctors and nurses risking their lives for the well-being of others, and because I am young, healthy, and have an interest in working in medicine, I just wanted to serve my community and help in whatever way I could.
Maura Farrell – age 18
I wanted to do something for the community amidst the pandemic, and I was drawn to SPRS because of my medical interest. Taking the EMT course hybrid was a little bit out of my comfort zone, but over time between that and virtual school I was able to get used to having online lectures. Because there were new precautions taken due to the pandemic, I felt like even though I was still learning on my shifts, everyone around me was learning a little as well. Everyone I’ve met at the squad has been so kind and supportive! They were always willing to help me review skills or study for my class. I’m so happy I made the decision to join!
Karoline Hocevar – age 16
I joined the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad around June of 2020. Seeing my parents work during quarantine made me want to do something more with my time. I had always hoped to one day join a rescue squad and I felt like it was the perfect time to help those in need.
Contributing Author: Susan Baldani, lifemember and membership chairperson of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.