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Ortley Beach First Aid Squad Faces Closure, Asks Citizenry For Help

First aiders seeking volunteers in order to continue Ortley Beach squad's operation

The Ortley Beach First Aid Squad, an active arm of the Toms River volunteer service community for more than four decades, is now on the brink of closing — and is asking citizens for any and all assistance to prevent that shutdown from taking place.

“The Ortley Beach First Aid Squad will soon be required to cease operations. Our dire situation is based on a lack of volunteers, and therefore we can no longer cover our duty calls,” said squad member and treasurer Phyllis Finelli.

Finelli said that at the moment only two volunteers are “riding” members of the squad, manning the ambulance.

“We’ve been open since 1969, and have been an important part of the community, especially in the summertime. We are asking the local residents and surrounding communities to please help us save our squad and building, by volunteering your time and experience. Many other local volunteer squads are dealing with the same issues,” Finelli added.

Finelli said that prospective volunteers need not be residents of strictly Ortley Beach or Toms River, and asked all citizens to keep in mind that if the squad is forced to close, it will be gone for good — in addition to the fact that the organization’s headquarters building has long been a hub for local events.

“The officers and members of the squad have always treated the building as a type of community center; scheduling meetings, graduation parties, birthdays, weddings, etc.,” Finelli said.

“The donations from these local events, along with your generous donations, have helped defray our operating costs. For this reason, whenever we are called to an emergency, there is never a charge to the patient,” Finelli said.

Finelli mentioned that the squad’s officers have met with the Township of Toms River, and that their status will be reviewed in May.

“We have a limited amount of time to increase our volunteers and continue to serve our community,” Finelli stated. “We want to keep what we have. A dedicated volunteer is a dedicated volunteer.”

Toms River Township Administrator Paul Shives said that the township wrote a letter to the Ortley Beach First Aid Squad late last year, and met with members personally about two months ago.

“In 2011, less than 10 percent of the first aid calls in Ortley Beach were answered,” Shives said. “We can’t fund a squad without volunteers.”

Shives wanted to note, however, that the township is keeping an open mind and did “leave the door open” at that time, saying that if volunteer membership in Ortley Beach increased, it would continue to fund the squad.

“We understand that it’s more difficult today to get volunteers, and there are fewer individuals capable of putting the time in. This is not adversarial toward the squad, but our primary focus is that the people who need an ambulance can get one quickly,” Shives said.

The administrator explained that in addition to volunteers, Toms River Township supplements its emergency response services with a full-time program of community service officers — who answered over 6,000 calls in 2011 — and who may need to be activated as first responders in Ortley, according to Shives.   

“Of course, the number of calls in Ortley Beach goes up in the summertime, and we’re looking to station an ambulance over there, though that has not been finalized,” Shives commented.

The Ortley Beach First Aid Squad asks that anyone who is willing to volunteer or be of assistance to please call 732-854-2468.

Volunteer EMT March 29, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Chris, Actually there is a little bit more to it. You were correct that the Emergency Medical Technician program used to be 120 hours, however it has recently be increased to 240 hours. And you are also correct that currently it is a 5 year certification, however it will soon be reduced back to 3 years. In those 3 years we are expected to attend Continuing Education Courses, which we have to pay out of our own pockets.
John V March 30, 2012 at 07:43 PM
More money being thrown down the hole by Fire District #1. When will you people wake up???
Ortley320 April 02, 2012 at 01:30 AM
I was also a member of OBFAS for a very long time.. A little history.. 4 years ago this squad had approx. 26 members and was covering approx 70% of the first aid calls in Ortley Beach - winter and summer...what happened? Volunteer First Aiders go through alot of schooling and training to maintain a license hard work, so for this squad to go through this change in a few years? This squad is a victim of arrogance and Toxic leadership - 26 members to 2? If no one is willing to follow the current leadership there becomes a big problem. Volunteers put there time and lives on the line everytime that rig roles. These few people have obviously forgotten they are there to support the public and not themselves. Shame on them! They have destroyed what used to be a fun and motivated public service organization.
Jersey Shore Boy May 05, 2012 at 03:15 AM
New leadership might have helped. Simply putting up some letters on the first aid station marquis asking for volunteers isn't effective. The organization did not even have a website. What a shame. Don't blame the lack of volunteers trend on the community. Responsibility rests squarely with the squad board and officers for benign neglect. In my opinion, lack of effort and incompetence is the cause for the demise of the volunteer squad. What a shame. What did they do to rescue the squad when the township gave them one last chance? The answer is nothing. The Patch article was too little too late. I wonder how many people approached the squad to volunteer, but were ignored? The board and officers dropped the ball - time and time again. What a shame. Why didn't the township leaders demand that the board step down and replace the officers? If you don't have success with one management team, you replace it. If you are failing and don't replace the management team, how can you expect any change in results? Not for nothing, why wasn't a news release sent to every media outlet in the region - not just the local weekly shopper - but radio stations and daily newspapers, too?
erin oconnell lunsford November 01, 2012 at 05:45 AM
I was an active member for OBFAS from 2002 until I moved to California in 2009. I volunteered anywhere from 3 to 6 nights shifts while living in North Dover, sleeping their at night and teaching in the morning at Barnegat High. I don't know what happened in the 3 years I have been gone, but it use to be a large squad that was a family that took care of its community.

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