South Branch Emergency Services was created by the merger of two long-serving emergency service organizations: Clinton First Aid & Rescue Squad and High Bridge Emergency Squad. Research convinced leaders of both founding organizations and a Steering Committee of residents, business owners, and elected officials from both communities that a merger would yield quicker response times and other efficiencies. The Committee provided planning and guidance that resulted in the new South Branch Emergency Services (SBES), which launched July 1. SBES serves the same northern areas of Hunterdon County that the two former organizations did: the Town of Clinton, Clinton Township, High Bridge, Lebanon Borough, and parts of Franklin Township and Union Township.
Key Community Benefits
The former Clinton building at 48 Old Highway 22 in the Town of Clinton and the High Bridge building at 95 West Main Street in High Bridge remain open. High Bridge’s evening staffing has changed from on-call to on-site. Both Clinton and High Bridge ambulances and other apparatus remain in service – now sporting new decals bearing the South Branch name. A single administrative team can serve what was two organizations and use resources more efficiently. Most importantly, SBES brings together the skills, experience, and dedication of High Bridge’s 20 volunteers, Clinton’s 90 volunteers, and Clinton’s 40 paid full- and part-time EMTs.
New Volunteers are Needed NOW
The need for emergency medical care has never been higher. South Branch Chief Frank Setnicky and Battalion Chief John “JT” Silliman agree the key to continuously improving service as call volumes keep rising is simple: More volunteers.
“Simple doesn’t mean easy,” Silliman said. Setnicky agrees. “There is a nationwide shortage of volunteer first responders, and we have felt the impact here in Hunterdon County, too.”
Both men have lived in and served the community for many years, and they have faith in their neighbors.
“Once people realize we are a predominantly volunteer organization, we need volunteers now, and that no experience is necessary to join, they will want to help,” Silliman said.
“Training, equipment and gear are free,” added Setnicky. “You will learn how to save lives – there is no more meaningful way to give back. And you will quickly start making a difference.”
Training begins with specialized CPR and first aid classes, after which volunteers can assist EMTs on ambulance calls, gaining experience that helps prepare them for the EMT course and exams.
Training includes learning to stay safe while helping others, covering everything from how to safely lift a patient to preventing the spread of viruses, including COVID-19. COVID-19 precautions, such as wearing masks, will also be observed during training.
The two SBES officers add that members will receive as much as they give, including a profound sense of accomplishment and purpose and the life-long friendship of other members.
There are many different and vital ways to volunteer with SBES, including the Cadet program for teens ages 14 through 18 and non-emergency support roles. Those interested should visit www.SBES365.org to learn more or fill out a volunteer inquiry form. Interested, but not certain? Consider the Observer Program. Anyone 18 or older can sign up to spend one shift riding along with the crew, no experience necessary.
South Branch Emergency Services is a community-based provider of Basic Life Support 9-1-1 ambulance service, Vehicle & Technical Rescue Services and Community & EMT Training. Formed in 2020 by the merger of the High Bridge Emergency Squad and the Clinton First Aid & Rescue Squad, SBES will continue our tradition of volunteer based service in and around High Bridge Borough as we have since 1953.
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