When First Aid Squad Capt. Bruce Mandel died from a massive heart attack last year, it was demoralizing blow to the Maplewood First Aid Squad, volunteers say.
After he died, some volunteers resigned and new people had not yet taken over, explained squad President LaVerne Peterson.
As a result, the squad has had to cut back on its hours and manpower. Now, the squad responds to calls five days a week, instead of seven.
So the Maplewood First Aid Squad – which is funded entirely by donations - is asking the public for financial and personnel support.
Peterson said the squad’s most pressing issue right now is raising money for radios. A single radio costs $1,500 and the squad needs four.
According to Peterson, it cost about $30,000 to run the squad last year, which was reduced from its previous budget of $46,000.
Peterson said the squad also needs new members. It has 20 now and needs between seven and 10 more. “If we could find people who are already EMTs,” she said, “that would be perfect.”
Peterson described morale of the squad being at an all-time low after Mandel’s death. “He was Superman,” she said.
With the reduced number of days the squad is available, the fire department will respond to emergencies on other days and the person who needs medical services will be billed for it.
“When you’re having trouble breathing or a heart issue, time is critical,” said Peterson. “When we’re coming to you, you’re not getting billed, we’re not taking a Social Security number. When it’s outsourced, they’re getting your information before you get on the stretcher. People don’t realize that because people in [Maplewood] don’t get billed; we will never bill.”
She said without enough donations the squad would be forced to shut down. Peterson said that could mean a longer response time for personnel responding to emergencies, because the calls could be outsourced to another town.
She encouraged anyone interested in volunteering to contact the squad through its website, maplewoodfirstaid.org
She said interested volunteers may be allowed to do a ride-along and see what a typical shift is like.
You can donate to the squad here.