Rescue Squad Takes on Fire Duty

In this era of tightening budgets, consolidation of services and, as part of the never-ending quest to provide the 911 caller with the quickest, most effective service possible, we frequently hear or read about fire departments that assume...


In this era of tightening budgets, consolidation of services and, as part of the never-ending quest to provide the 911 caller with the quickest, most effective service possible, we frequently hear or read about fire departments that assume responsibility for all or part of the EMS delivery system...


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In this era of tightening budgets, consolidation of services and, as part of the never-ending quest to provide the 911 caller with the quickest, most effective service possible, we frequently hear or read about fire departments that assume responsibility for all or part of the EMS delivery system.

However, can you remember ever hearing or reading about an EMS organization that takes on fire suppression as an added responsibility? That is exactly what happened in June 2008, when the Millville, NJ, Rescue Squad signed a contract to provide all emergency services, including on-track fire suppression, at the newly opened New Jersey Motorsports Race Track.

The squad was organized as a fully volunteer entity on Dec. 18, 1958, as part of the Nabb Leslie American Legion Post in Millville, a city of about 25,000 in the southern part of the state. By the late 1980s, increased demands for service in conjunction with changes in service-delivery models prompted the dissolution of the association with the American Legion and the transition into the current Millville Rescue Squad. To keep pace with ever-increasing demands for service, which by then were in excess of 4,000 emergency responses per year, the first six full-time employees were hired in November 1995, commencing the transition of the organization into a combination volunteer/career service. John Redden was soon appointed as full-time chief and shortly after CEO, positions he continues to hold today.

Over the past 14-plus years, the Millville Rescue Squad has evolved into a large corporation comprised of three divisions: the Millville Rescue Squad, which provides 911 emergency medical services to Millville and parts of several surrounding townships; Medical Response Services, which provides non-emergency patient transport and para-transit services to numerous local health-care facilities, agencies and organizations; and the recently formed Motorsports Rescue Specialists, which provides all on-track emergency services at the race track. It currently has more than 200 full- and part-time employees staffing more than 50 emergency and non-emergency vehicles around the clock.

The seeds for the current emergency services delivery system were originally sown about five years ago, when the concept of a new world-class race track was first proposed for a large tract of land near Millville Airport. Redden was asked to join what was known as the Green Flag Committee, a group of local business, community and civic leaders who were to be advocates for development of the race track project. As a member of the Green Flag Committee, Redden became involved in the requirements for track safety and emergency response, but originally was only going to provide emergency medical services. As more track safety and response issues were directed toward him, and after consultation with the Millville Fire Department, which will still handle any structural or significant fire incidents off the track, he decided to develop a proposal to provide all on-track safety and emergency response needs. He then formed Motorsports Rescue Specialists (MRS) as a division of the Millville Rescue Squad. Track officials accepted this proposal and MRS was awarded a five-year contract.

Once the contract was signed, MRS established a budget of $750,000 for the purchase of necessary vehicles and equipment. Numerous other established race tracks were contacted and several were visited to learn what worked and didn't work for them and to evaluate the tools and equipment that they were using. As a result of this research, MRS purchased four Ford F-350 crew-cab pickup trucks that were converted into fire-rescue quick-response units referred to as MERVs (multi-purpose emergency response vehicles), four ambulances, one medium-duty wrecker, one light-duty wrecker, one roll back, one pickup truck and three golf carts. The MERVs carry fire suppression equipment, extrication tools and equipment, and basic absorbent material for hydrocarbon spills as well as having "flat-tow" capabilities.

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