By: Bill Sebastian
The Monroe Twp. Ambulance and Rescue Assn. was founded in 1948 by a small group of dedicated men eager to aid their community. Although eager, they were ill trained in medical procedures. Ambulance service was new to South Jersey and there weren’t many guidelines established or classes available at the time. This did not discourage our charter members, they pressed on with their dream. This was the era of the “Swoop and Scoop”. They would rush to the scene, pick up the patients and rush them to the hospital in Camden, as fast as possible! The original squad operated out of facilities on Blue Bell Road that was an old barn, and received their medical supplies through donations from local drug stores. Many times, the only supplies available were band-aids, cotton balls, and hand made triangle bandages!
On March 7, 1955 the squad purchased a 1937 Packard Henney Ambulance for $200.00! On January 8, 1957 the squad received the deed to the property on Chestnut Street and a one bay facility was constructed with volunteer labor. In 1958 the first rescue boat was purchased and a new Oldsmobile Fiesta ambulance was bought for $5,109.52! Active membership at this time was at 37, and about 230 calls were taken per year.
As the need for ambulance service grew, the squad purchased more equipment, always with donated funds and monies earned through fundraisers. On December 9, 1960 a new Cadillac Superior Ambulance was bought for $11,350.00, and in 1963 a new Chevy Panel Truck was purchased as the areas first Rescue Truck. This vehicle is still in service and held in high regard in our fleet. It has been refurbished by squad members and local craftsmen, and has won many trophies in both Local and State Competitions. In 1964 Resolution R-22-64 was passed budgeting $3500.00 to the Monroe Twp. Ambulance & Rescue Assn., of this, $500.00 was given to the Cecil Ambulance Squad for their operation. In 1977 adjoining property was purchased, an addition to house two ambulances was added, and a new Horton Ambulance was bought. Also, the first Anti-Shock Pants were purchased and place in service. Active membership was at 29 members.
Times were changing! More education was available in the field and all members took advantage of it. Many attended the first Emergency Medical Technician (E.M.T.) classes given in the area. In 1981 Paramedics were available for calls in our area of operation, and were called in on life threatening cases. A squad patch was designed and adopted (and changed again in recent years – only the “old guys” have the original patch). In 1982 a new Pierce Light Rescue Truck was purchased with members Burger, Sebastian, and Fries going out to Wisconsin to pick it up and drive it back. That year also saw the addition of three bays added to the squad building. Two Braun Ambulances were added in 1985 and in 1990 an Air Option Mobile Cascade was bought to assist the fire company. Then in 1993 a new Pierce Heavy Rescue Truck was purchased for $188,000.00. The squad’s active membership was at 14 (all E.M.T.’s) and between the hours of 6 PM and 6 AM on weekdays, and all weekends and covered holidays, a total of 1252 emergency calls were answered in 1992!
In recent years the Township of Monroe has supported this Association by purchasing much needed equipment and continues to assist us through the Township Budget. We had out grown our facilities on Chestnut Street. The equipment needed to carry out the purpose of the Association has grown at unexpected proportions! The new breed of ambulance would not fit in the bays of our facilities.
The squad approached the township with our problem and was pleased to hear that they would help us in anyway possible. As a result, a New Building Committee was formed and the township purchased 3.2 acres of land on the corner of Blue Bell Road and Corkery Lane. This committee interviewed four Architects for the project, and made a recommendation to the Administration to hire Mr. Robbie Conley, AIA, as the architect. A resolution was drafted by the Solicitor allowing the Mayor to enter into a contract with Mr. Conley, and we were on our way towards new facilities. In addition, Chris Rehmann of Adams Rehmann and Heggan graciously donated his services to the association for the site engineering of the project.
Our current facility was opened in 2003 and is a 10,000 sqft building, containing six 75’-0” drive-thru bays, meeting room, offices, small kitchen, storage rooms, equipment rooms, oxygen storage, and bunk rooms. At the end of 2001 we had 22 EMT’s and an additional 5 in EMT Training Classes and responded to over 1650 emergency calls. Our young EMT’s are dedicated and hard working individuals.
In addition, we maintain a working relationship with the township, Williamstown Fire Company No. 1, and Cecil Fire & Ambulance.
Immediately following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, our squad joined with the County Response to aid the city of New York. A few of our crews were also assigned to EMS duty in New York City, days after the incident, to run regular duty for the New York Units. This enabled the New York crews to continue their search and rescue assignment at “ground zero”, while still offering aid to the residents of New York in their hour of need. Those individuals who volunteered their services acted in the true spirit of this association.