History of the Glen Ridge Ambulance Squad

In 1890, using a horse-drawn wagon, the first ambulance service was provided to the Glen Ridge community by Mountainside Hospital.  That service was discontinued in 1948, and the town then responded to emergency calls with police officers and members of the Glen Ridge Volunteer Fire Department arriving in a fire truck.  If an ambulance was needed, a call was made to the dispatcher for the Montclair police ambulance.  Invariably response was problematic since it was also on call to Montclair and Bloomfield. If the Montclair ambulance was not available, backups included the Red Cross ambulance and what was delicately referred to as the "Gorny and Gorny service" - a local funeral parlor transporting patients to the hospital in a hearse!  Not a very comforting way to get there!

But help was on its way, thanks to the efforts of an entire community still recovering from the effects of World War II on its local citizens.   During that war, Glen Ridge single-handedly raised money to purchase an ambulance to help the British at home.    When the time came, it was fitting to do the same for our hometown.  Members of the Glen Ridge Battalion Forum were looking for a suitable way to pay tribute to the local heroes who fought in previous wars.  At that time Glen Ridge was in need of more than an ambulance and the timing was now right.   In 1950 the Glen Ridge Volunteer Ambulance Squad was organized as a functional memorial to the thirty-two men from town who died serving their country during World War II.  

 

The First Ambulance

Fundraising began for the town's first ambulance in early 1950 and the response was overwhelming.  Even before letters of appeal were sent out, money poured into the fire station at the rate of $500 per day.  In the end, 1,600 households in town (out of a total of 2,100) made donations.  The $12,000 amount raised exceeded the set goal by $2,000.  This allowed the purchase of an ambulance built by Cadillac that was then state-of-the-art, equipped with oxygen, a resuscitator and inhalator.  There was also a brass plaque inside bearing the names of the 32 individuals from town who had died in the war.

The new ambulance was manned (literally) by the volunteer firemen, two on call at all times, and in its first three years of service, it responded to over 650 calls becoming the "byword of excellent and needed services."  

The ambulance squad was run by the Glen Ridge fire department until 1990, when it was dissolved and fire services were contracted to Montclair.  Ambulance service continued without interruption as volunteers, representing a broad cross-section of the town in terms of gender, situation, and age from 16 to 70+ came together to build and evolve the ambulance squad to its modern counterpart today.

Today, the squad has over 60 active members (one-quarter are EMT state certified high school students) who donate their time and skills 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to provide support and professional  pre-hospital care and transport to those in need in the Townships of Glen Ridge, Montclair and Bloomfield.  

 

*Source:  Spring 2008 Glen Ridge Town Talk