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Expo opens students’ eyes to emergency services careers

By Peter Elacqua
Staff Writer

High school students from across Monmouth County recently learned what a career in emergency medical services would have in store for them.

The Freehold First Aid and Emergency Squad held its first Disaster Response Expo on Jan. 10. The expo was geared toward high school students who are part of first aid squad cadet programs and Police Explorer programs. About 90 students were in attendance. The event was organized by Freehold First Aid Squad Capt. Peter DeNicola.

Participants represented Freehold EMS, Holmdel EMS, the Englishtown-Manalapan First Aid Squad, the Howell First Aid and Rescue Squad, Bayshore EMS (Aberdeen and Matawan), the Keyport First Aid Squad, the Eatontown First Aid Squad, the Freehold Fire Department and the Freehold Township Independent Fire Company.

The event began with a tour of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department, Freehold Township, as the cadets met Senior Public Safety Telecommunicator Dawn Dupre and Communications Supervisor Scott Nielson. The cadets toured the facility, met 911 dispatchers, and learned what the training for emergency dispatchers is like and how the communications center operates during disasters.

“Learning how our 911 calls are dispatched and what county resources get activated during an emergency was very interesting,” Freehold First Aid and Emergency Squad Cadet Corps Capt. Sean Preston said. “We were able to see a different side of emergency services that we do not see when we are on the ambulance.”

The cadets met Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden and learned about his experiences as a police officer, firefighter and paramedic.

The participants were then transported to Freehold Borough and given tours of emergency vehicles.

Representatives from the New Jersey Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue, New Jersey Emergency Medical Services Task Force, Army National Guard, Freehold Fire Department, Freehold Township Independent Fire Company, East Freehold Fire Company, Gordons Corner Fire Company, Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC) and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office were in attendance at the expo.

The vehicles on scene were an Urban Search and Rescue Vehicle from the New Jersey State Police, a Mobile Simulation Lab and Mobile Intensive Care Unit from MONOC, a heavy rescue unit vehicle from the East Freehold Fire Company, a tower truck from the Freehold Township Independent Fire Company, a fire rehab unit from the Gordons Corner Fire Company, a Mass Care Response Unit from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and two vehicles from the National Guard.

Each vehicle had a representative who gave a tour of the vehicle and taught the participants how to use each piece of equipment.

“Our junior members are just beginning to explore the field of emergency services,” DeNicola said. “Events like these not only have an educational component, but they also provide an opportunity for the next generation of first responders to get to know one another. I was only expecting about 50 to 60 students, so this definitely exceeded expectations. At the end of the day, it was worth it and we plan on doing more in the future.””

Subs were donated by Jersey Mike’s and drinks were donated by Wegmans for lunch.

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