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NJ EMS Task Force Celebrates 10 Years Responding to Disasters

Formed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the New Jersey EMS Task Force has become the organization called in when disasters strike and a model for other states, officials of the organization said Sept. 20, 2014 during a day-long event to mark the 10th anniversary of the statewide group.

“It is what everyone calls when it hits the fan and the creek rises,” NJ EMS Task Force founding member Mickey McCabe, and president of McCabe Ambulance, told attendees.

“It is like nothing anyone could have imagined and amazing how you do it for free,” McCabe added later.

More than 150 emergency medical service professionals from around New Jersey gathered for the event, which was held at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center.

The NJ EMS Task Force is a team career and volunteer EMS professionals that responds to natural and man-made disasters. The organization has been integral to the emergency responses for Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, wildfires, flooding in Bound Brook, a fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, and the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 and has also provided EMS resources at such planned events as Super Bowl XLVIII, the NJ Marathon, the Warped Tour concerts, the NJ Balloon Festival and Bamboozle.

“It is the human resources that make this project a success,” said NJ EMS Task Force Chairman John Grembowiec, Sr.  Grembowiec noted how the NJ EMS Task Force had evolved since its inception into a major force nationally in EMS planning and response.

In addition to marking the 10th anniversary, the event was also held in conjunction with National Preparedness Month.

Nancy Kelly Goodstein, acting director of the Office of Emergency Medical Services,  said the members of the NJ EMS Task Force made it easier for everyone at NJ OEMS to carry out their jobs. “You’ve impacted countless lives and influenced other states,” Kelly-Goodstein said.

The event included a display of major NJ EMS Task Force assets deployed around the state including Medical Ambulance Busses,  trucks equipped for mass care situations and other specialty response equipment. Members also participated in a helicopter landing drill, which included a team from the NJ State Police helicopter unit.  Commander Andrew Chen of the United States Public Health Service delivered a luncheon keynote address.

Christopher Rinn, assistant commissioner of the NJ Department of Health Division of Public Health Infrastructure, Laboratories, and Emergency Preparedness told attendees that the group was “borne out of the cauldron of the 9/11 attacks” and that 10 years was quite a milestone.

Individuals were the key to emergency response, Rinn said. “These areas, planning and response, is where the Task Force really shines, ” he said.

Since it was created, the NJ EMS Task Force has also been responsible for developing more than 15 major disaster plans covering such issues as hurricane and tropical storm response, rail disasters and for the ports and harbors.  Indeed, the organization’s planning and response to Superstorm Sandy has garnered international attention and is being implemented elsewhere.

“Many states around the country are looking at New Jersey as the model,” Rinn said. “The question is what will be next, Ebola, or some other infectious disease, or terrorism? I know you will be ready for the next event, no matter what form it takes, no matter what the job.”

Formed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the New Jersey EMS Task Force has become the organization called in when disasters strike and a model for other states, officials of the organization said Sept. 20, 2014 during a day-long event to mark the 10th anniversary of the statewide group.

“It is what everyone calls when it hits the fan and the creek rises,” NJ EMS Task Force founding member Mickey McCabe, and president of McCabe Ambulance, told attendees. 

“It is like nothing anyone could have imagined and amazing how you do it for free,” McCabe added later.

More than 150 emergency medical service professionals from around New Jersey gathered for the event, which was held at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center.

The NJ EMS Task Force is a team career and volunteer EMS professionals that responds to natural and man-made disasters. The organization has been integral to the emergency responses for Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, wildfires, flooding in Bound Brook, a fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, and the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 and has also provided EMS resources at such planned events as Super Bowl XLVIII, the NJ Marathon, the Warped Tour concerts, the NJ Balloon Festival and Bamboozle.

“It is the human resources that make this project a success,” said NJ EMS Task Force Chairman John Grembowiec, Sr. Grembowiec noted how the NJ EMS Task Force had evolved since its inception into a major force nationally in EMS planning and response.

In addition to marking the 10th anniversary, the event was also held in conjunction with National Preparedness Month.

Nancy Kelly Goodstein, acting director of the Office of Emergency Medical Services,  said the members of the NJ EMS Task Force made it easier for everyone at NJ OEMS to carry out their jobs. “You’ve impacted countless lives and influenced other states,” Kelly-Goodstein said.

The event included a display of major NJ EMS Task Force assets deployed around the state including Medical Ambulance Busses, trucks equipped for mass care situations and other specialty response equipment. Members also participated in a helicopter landing drill, which included a team from the NJ State Police helicopter unit.  Commander Andrew Chen of the United States Public Health Service delivered a luncheon keynote address.

Christopher Rinn, assistant commissioner of the NJ Department of Health Division of Public Health Infrastructure, Laboratories, and Emergency Preparedness told attendees that the group was “borne out of the cauldron of the 9/11 attacks” and that 10 years was quite a milestone.

Individuals were the key to emergency response, Rinn said. “These areas, planning and response, is where the Task Force really shines, ” he said.

Since it was created, the NJ EMS Task Force has also been responsible for developing more than 15 major disaster plans covering such issues as hurricane and tropical storm response, rail disasters and for the ports and harbors.  Indeed, the organization’s planning and response to Superstorm Sandy has garnered international attention and is being implemented elsewhere.

“Many states around the country are looking at New Jersey as the model,” Rinn said. “The question is what will be next, Ebola, or some other infectious disease, or terrorism? I know you will be ready for the next event, no matter what form it takes, no matter what the job.”