First Aid Squad
The Ocean Grove Fire Department First Aid Squad was founded at 8:00 p.m. on March 15, 1932 by William Lyons, Henry Viering, Arthur Carpenter, Russell Holbrook, of the Eagle Hook & Ladder Company, Watkin Williams, David O’Reilly and Elmer Beatty of Washington Hose Company, and Warren Brown, Wesley Nagle, and Leo Brierly of E.H. Stokes Fire Company, as well as James Blair, representing the Chiefs of the Ocean Grove Fire Department.
Mr. Charles Burger, of the Belmar First Aid Squad was the lead instructor, training 16 men from the three Ocean Grove Fire Department companies in Red Cross First Aid. The men passed their final exam on April 29, 1932. In gratitude for Mr. Burger's service and instruction, the men contributed $1.25 each and presented Mr. Burger with a $20 gold piece. The Belmar ambulance was present at the graduation ceremony on that night.
The squad’s first public fund raiser was authorized on May 3, 1932 when a committee was appointed to make arrangements for a Motion Picture Benefit at the Strand Theater, located in the North End Hotel in Ocean Grove.
In late September 1932, the squad purchased a used Meteor Motor Car ambulance from the Red Bank First Aid Squad for $25.00. Prior to this time, the squad members were attempting to convert a Lincoln automobile chassis, donated in August 1932, to an ambulance. Mr. Matthews, of Farmingdale, had offered to extend the Lincoln chassis and convert it to an ambulance for $300.00, excluding paint. Upon acquiring the Red Bank ambulance, the Lincoln was dispatched to the junkyard, by Shafto’s Garage, at no charge. The Meteor Motor Car required extensive mechanical work and repainting to be placed in service.
On January 4, 1933, the first ambulance was in operating condition, stocked with equipment, but remained out of service, as license plates had not yet arrived, and insurance had yet to be arranged. Securing insurance from the E. I. Brown Agency was authorized. The minutes of the squad also indicate “a motion by H. Viering that the (Ambulance) Committee be instructed to purchase a siren was carried unanimously.”
Ironically, following night, January 5, 1933, at 10 p.m., Harry Viering, a fireman with the Eagle Hook & Ladder Company would become the first patient transported in the first squad ambulance, after being mortally injured in the line of duty with the fire department. Viering died at 11 p.m. at Fitkin Hospital, now known as Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
The squad’s first ambulance was officially placed in service five days later, upon receipt of the license plates, on January 10, 1933. Prior to this ambulance being placed in service, the squad’s equipment was carried on the E. H. Stokes Fire Company Emergency Wagon.
The squad was initially dispatched by two "taps" of the fire horn. Upon sounding the horn, all available members of the squad were expected to report to the squad headquarters in the Olin Street Firehouse. Upon assembling a crew, the location of the emergency would be obtained from the Ocean Grove Police Headquarters, next door to the firehouse. Later, the ambulances would be equipped with two way radios. "Plectron" home radio alerting systems would be obtained and provided to squad members in the late '60s, later to be supplemented and replaced with battery operated pagers. With the demise of the Ocean Grove Police Department on December 31, 1977, dispatch of the squad passed to the Neptune Township Police Department. Neptune Police operate the primary 911 answering point for several local communities. Due to public complaints, the horn alerting system ceased operation in the 1980s. In recent years, the squad's dispatch frequency has switched to the Neptune Township Emergency Medical Service channel, which provides coordination of emergency medical operations and leaves the Ocean Grove Fire Department channel solely to fire service related communications.
While membership in the squad is no longer drawn solely from the ranks of the firefighters, the Ocean Grove Fire Department First Aid Squad maintains a close working relationship with the Ocean Grove Fire Department and the Board of Fire Commissioners of Neptune Fire District No. 2 (Ocean Grove), as well as Neptune First Aid Squad, Hamilton First Aid Squad, Shark River Hills First Aid Squad, Neptune Office of Emergency Management, Neptune Police Department, Ocean Grove Beach Patrol, Area Network of Shore Water Emergency Responders (ANSWER Water Rescue), and all the neighboring fire and emergency service agencies.
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