BERKELEY – Ask Patricia Sperber, a longtime member of the Bayville First Aid Squad, what her worst call was. She pauses for a minute, then just shakes her head.
It involved two very young children, a boy and a girl. And that’s all she can discuss publicly, because the memory is still too fresh, even though it was decades ago.
After 41 years as a first aid squad member, including some years when she was president, there’s not too much that gets to her. But that experience did.
She inherited her parents’ love of volunteering. Lester and Ginny Anderson were squad members. Her father was also a firefighter in Union for 50 years. Several of her nephews are longtime members of the Bayville Volunteer Fire Department.
“Our whole lives have been spent volunteering,” said Sperber, 77. “It gets in your blood. You want to help people.”
She’s delivered four babies during her time on the squad. One of the babies’ mother still sends her a Christmas card every year, she said.
Fortunately for Bayville residents, not much bothers her when she answers first aid calls.
But for anyone thinking about joining the first aid squad as an emergency medical technician, Sperber has some advice.
“If you can’t handle blood or vomit, you wouldn’t belong,” she said. “You have to be able to handle sickness.”
If you can’t, you can always volunteer as a driver or as an attendant, to help squad members.
“We do bring people on just to do the driving,” she said. “You have to know CPR and basic first aid.”
Sperber has rarely had a holiday that hasn’t been interrupted because she had to answer a call. That includes the celebrations where she was cooking.
The squad currently has about 20 emergency medical technicians, but could use more.
The Bayville First Aid Squad was born after a tragic death.
David C. Wright, 17, and his friend had hitched a ride on a summer night back in July 1954. The teenagers were heading to their summer homes in the Holly Park section of Bayville, when the car collided head-on with another. David’s skull was fractured.
He died the next day, after residents and police brought him to Paul Kimball Hospital by car. There was no Bayville First Aid Squad, no nearby hospitals. There’s still a picture of David and a newspaper article about the accident hanging on a wall in the first aid squad building on Route 9 South in Bayville.
The squad began shortly after David’s death. Some of his relatives were among the first members.
While many of the squad’s calls deal with medical emergencies, some are unfortunately related to suicide and drugs. Some of the drug overdoses recently have taken place in public places, like stores.
“We get a lot of ODs,” she said.
And some of the overdose victims can be difficult after they are treated with Narcan.
“Sometimes when they come back (revived), they will fight you,” Sperber said.
There are also times when squad members get some non-medically related calls too. People have actually called to ask if squad members can put out their garbage, she said.
The squad, which also helps out in Ocean Gate and Lanoka Harbor, is looking for state or nationally certified emergency medical technicians.
“We are currently seeking qualified EMTs who are dedicated, compassionate, and driven,” according to the squad’s Facebook page. “The BFAS answers approx. 1700-2000 service calls each year, so the community will always need and appreciate your commitment. With volunteer crews covering most days and nights we can work around your busy schedule. If you are interested please visit us at bayvillefas.org or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.”
And if you can’t volunteer, you can always donate to the 100 percent non-profit organization. All of the donations go to apparatus upkeep, the squad building, supplies and equipment.