Chief Stint Over, But Duties Are Not for This Volunteer
Finnegan still does a lot of work for the squad.
Kim Finnegan just finished a two-year term as chief of the Jefferson Rescue Squad but that doesn’t mean she’s finished with squad obligations.
Finnegan is preparing her recruitment presentation at the high school. Every two years the squad meets with juniors and seniors who are eligible to join. The veteran members appeal to their sense of duty, but also inform the students about the benefits to them. They get a $600 credit off tuition at County College of Morris and are eligible for a $4,000 scholarship from the 200 Club of Morris. There are also many local scholarships for members of the emergency squads, fire and police, she said. The last high school recruitment brought in 18 people, of whom 13 remained on the squad.
Finnegan discussed the work of chief, which is time-consuming. The chief needs to make sure the township is covered at all times, sets up drills and training and is in charge of recruiting new members.
The squad has 57 active members, but it’s nevertheless sometimes hard to get a day crew, she said.
The squad is busiest in winter and summer. In winter there is more illness and in summer, the lake brings many more people to the township. In spite of this, there have been few major accidents.
“We have people hurt riding jet skis or burning themselves on the motors, but haven’t had any horrible accidents,” she said.
The squad responds to about 1200 calls a year. Route 15 has become a major highway and with a proposed trucking company and Quick-Chek, it will only get busier.
“We have a problem getting to our building in the mornings now, Finnegan said. “People see the blue light and don’t move over. When I was chief, I got calls, saying ‘so and so pushed me off the road.’ They didn’t push them off the road, they passed. People are in more of a hurry than they were. Their lives are busier, they’re always in a hurry.”
That sometimes translates into more calls because people who could have brought themselves to the hospital wait until they have to call the squad.
However, there are still generous people, including a man who doesn’t want his name released who donated funds for three mechanical stretchers, Finnegan said. The mechanical stretchers make it easier and faster for the squad to lift people into the vehicle.
Finnegan and her husband, Tom, a fireman, both work for Verizon, which is very generous to the squad as well. Their daughter, Lindsay, teaches first grade in Flemington and their son, RJ, is a student and lives at home.