Welcome aboard

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:55

    LAFAYETTE-When John Farishon begins his term as Lafayette Township Fire Chief on Jan. 1, he will have the largest fire fighting force the town has had in five years. That's how long it has been since the fire department, which also serves as the community's Emergency Medical Service, has added a new volunteers. But two new members have brought membership up to 20, not counting a number of officially inactive members who still sometimes respond to calls. That's far below the maximum authorized squad size of 35, and Farishon admits, "it would be good to have another ten members." Farishon said the squad also needs "First Responders," individuals who are, as the title implies, first to the scene of an accident. First responders do not have to take firefighter training. Both of the new members, meeting, are single fathers. Gerry Bsales and Martin Little joined out of a sense of responsibility to the community. "I have kids, and I just want to help. My grandfather was a fireman, and so was my uncle," said Bsales. Also a soccer coach for the town league, Bsales is a former marine. He has lived in Lafayette since 1998 with his two children, eight-year-old Daniel and nine-year-old Amy. Bsales is also the principal of religious education at St. Joseph Church and goes to kick-boxing classes several nights a week with his children. "My sons live in this town, and I want to set an example for them to get involved in the community," said Little. His two sons, Cory, 14, and Aaron, 11, are members of Boy Scout Troop 850, where Little is assistant scoutmaster. "I'm lucky. I have the support of the boys' grandparents. My boys just love them to death," Little added. The new members are the second addition to the squad in recent months. A donor who wishes to remain anonymous donated much-needed emergency vehicle equipped with the "Jaws of Life" tool that allows rescuers to cut victims out of crushed cars. "It's something we have been waiting for," said Larry Decker, who will become assistant fire chief. For a long time, Lafayette had no rescue squad of its own, using the Blue Ridge Rescue Squad wthat covered seven towns. To provide better coverage, the fire department added EMS training was added to the courses taken by these volunteers because, said Farishon, "It became very difficult to watch someone desperately in need of medical help, and we did not have the training or equipment to do anything. Minutes are critical in that type of situation." To become a full-fledged EMS/firefighter, Farishon said, volunteers must complete 130 hours of training at the Sussex County Fire Academy in Branchville. "When you add all these up, you could qualify for several college degrees," said Farishon. Farishon explained the concept of the "Golden Hour," the time within which a victim of an accident has the best chance of survival. Fifteen minutes from when an accident occurs and is called in; 15 minutes to arrive on scene and stabilize; 15 minutes to reach the hospital; 15 minutes for hospital to do work-up and into surgery. Any time beyond that greatly reduces the victim's chances of survival. Assistant Chief Decker's brother, Ron Decker, also a voluntter, knows how critical those first minutes can be. A few years ago, he went into full cardiac arrest while responding to a call. He was saved by fellow volunteers on the scene who were able to give him immediate aid. Because funding is very limited, the members themselves contribute in many other ways. Some members who are mechanics and carpenters have actually built equipment and tools that would otherwise be too expensive for the squad to buy. The volunteers also conduct fund raising campaigns including mailings, with the help of senior citizens. For more information on volunteering, call 973-383-0661.