49 Rescue Back in the Day
The early history of the Flemington - Raritan First Aid & Rescue Squad dates back to 1929 when the American Legion Post 159 decided to provide ambulance service to rural Flemington and the surrounding areas. On June 15th, 1929, the Legion placed the secondhand ambulance into service. They answered their first call two days later. Back then, patients had to be transported to hospitals in Trenton or Somerville, as Hunterdon Medical Center would not become a reality for more than 23 years. The Rescue Squad answered more calls yesterday (eighteen in twenty-four hours!) than the Legion ambulance answered in the first six months of operation. In a report dated 1939, the Legion reported that they had answered 476 calls during the first ten years of operation. A new ambulance was purchased in 1939 with donations from the community.
An important milestone for the Rescue Squad occurred on Tuesday, January 29th, 1952. The American Legion Ambulance Committee held a meeting with other "interested men" from the community about forming a new first aid organization that was separate from the Legion. This would allow people in the community who were not Legion members to join, and it would open up potential funding sources from the local municipalities. All in attendance voted in favor of forming this new agency. The Flemington First Aid and Rescue Squad held our first meeting on March 21st, 1952 and elected our first officers that evening. The Squad would remain affiliated with the Legion until October 17th, 1952 when we officially became an independent agency, complete with the 1939 ambulance that was given to the Squad by the Legion. The Legion members also agreed to continue to house the ambulance at their post on Broad Street until the Squad could build a station. Many of the Legion ambulance members stayed on and became charter members of the "new" organization.
On Friday, December 19th, 1952, a "like new" 1949 Packard ambulance was placed into service by the Squad, funded by community donations and the proceeds from a ladies auxiliary cake sale. The new rig was placed on display for the community to view in front of the Court House steps on Main Street. The new ambulance was kept at the American Legion, while the 1939 rig was kept at the Hunterdon County Road Garage at Church and Broad Street.
On Friday, May 18th, 1953, the Squad announced plans to build a new station on vacant land between State Highway 12 and Reaville Avenue. Fundraising efforts were started immediately, but construction would not start until the spring of 1955. The new building would not become a reality until almost three years later when the new station was dedicated on January 19th, 1958. The Squad is still in this original facility, which has seen three major expansions over the years. A capital fund drive campaign is currently underway to build a new station that will house us for the next fifty years.
Another milestone took place on Monday, June 29th, 1953 when the first female members were allowed to join the Rescue Squad. Ten members of the Ladies Auxiliary were sworn in and joined the ranks of the Rescue Squad.
The Rescue Squad continued to grow over the decades that followed, keeping pace with our developing community. For comparison's sake, the Rescue Squad answered 49 calls during 1933, 101 calls in 1946, 385 calls during 1956, and 732 calls during 1966, compared with 3153 during 2019.
In 1976, the Squad officially changed our name to the "Flemington - Raritan First Aid and Rescue Squad" to reflect the growth and service to the once rural Raritan Township.
The Rescue Squad has a very colorful history and continues to put our Community first, as we have for almost ninety-two years when the Legion ambulance answered that first call.
Celebrating National EMS Week 2021