It is with mixed emotions that we announce a migration to full-time, 24x7 hospital-based EMS coverage for EMS calls in Rockaway Township as of Jan 1, 2023. A few months ago, the EMS Division Members met and made the uncomfortable and heartbreaking decision to close, as unfortunately the shortage of members and continually increasing call volumes have made the volunteer division unsustainable. We felt it was in the best interest of the residents to allow the town to provide an alternative solution which could provide the necessary and needed service to the residents. This sadly is something that is not only occurring in our town but is a current crisis across the entire country both with paid and volunteer services. The RTFD is currently working with the Mayor and his Administrative team to bid EMS service and contract with a provider. In the meantime, St Clares EMS will continue to provide EMS service for Rockaway Township 24/7.
Since the early 1950’s, the Rockaway Township Fire Department responded to all EMS calls in the town with all volunteer members, beginning with two ambulances (one in Hibernia Fire Company #1 and one in Mount Hope Fire Company #2). As the town grew, additional fire stations were added throughout the town bringing us Marcella Company #3, Birchwood Company #4 and White Meadow Lake Company #5. Each station was equipped with fire apparatus and an ambulance, and the volunteers responded to all fire and EMS calls in their respective territories.
In 2006, Rockaway Township brought in St Clares EMS to cover day-time EMS calls due to increased demands and lack of daytime volunteer availability. In 2011, as EMS call volumes continued to exponentially increase and membership decreased, the Rockaway Township Fire Department created an EMS Division. The EMS Division was split into two areas covering the North (Marcella and Hibernia) and the South (White Meadow, Mount Hope and Birchwood) for night-time and weekend EMS response.
On July 1, 2011 at 6pm, the EMS Division of the Rockaway Township Fire Department officially began with its first shift, which ensured fully staffed volunteer ambulances for all EMS calls with EMT’s for all of the shifts we covered, something which was not required by law but felt as needed by our members. Since then, increasing demands and decreasing membership shifted more responsibility to the hospital-based EMS to ensure adequate EMS coverage to the town.
On December 30, 2022, at 6pm, the last shift of the EMS Division of the RTFD started, and the EMS Division of the Rockaway Township Fire Department will officially end at 5am December 31st, 2022.
Over the past 10 ½ years, we’ve seen members join, and members leave, all due to life and changes therein. We’ve also had members that started with us and then moved on in life to become Nurses, Nursing Professors, ER Doctors, Physician Assistants, EMS Supervisors, Physical Therapists, and EMT’s at various hospital-based services, and the list goes on, continuing their desire to be of service in the health care field.
We are extremely proud of all our present and past members for all the time, dedication, and effort they gave to the residents and to the department and look forward to those EMS Only members who will remain on the Department to assist on calls with the Fire Division.
We would like to thank the Fire Only members of the Department who assisted our Division through the years, and would also like to thank all the other agencies that have assisted us over the years, including Saint Clare's Health, Atlantic Mobile Health, Town of Dover Fire Department, Denville Volunteer Fire Department, Par-Troy EMS, Green Pond First Aid Squad, Morris County Office of Emergency Management, and others that we may be missing.
Green Pond EMS will continue to operate with their volunteers within Green Pond, supported by hospital-based EMS as needed.
Jim Russo, Fire Department Chief
Sean D’Amico, Deputy Chief
Brian McCormack, EMS Asst Chief
Jeff Heintzelman, Director – Department of Fire