With 50 active volunteers, three ambulances and one first-response vehicle, handles 2,000 calls a year, covering Bamber Lake, Forked River, the Oyster Creek Generating Station, and parts of the Garden State Parkway and Route 539.
“We frequently have two to three ambulances on the road handling calls at one time,” said John Hodes, a trustee with Lacey Township EMS. “We have a good service program for our ambulances and maintain them very well, but in time everything wears out.”
Hodes said that the service life of an ambulance is usually five to eight years but their oldest dates back to 1996. It is time to replace that vehicle, but the cost to buy a new ambulance is $140,000, he said. Even with a commitment from the Lacey Township Committee to give the Lacey EMS $100,000, they must raise the remaining $40,000.
An effort was made to come up with innovative new fundraisers to help the cause, and with the planning skills of a member of the well-known veterans motorcycle organization Rolling Thunder, it was decided they would hold a poker run.
The First Annual Lacey Day Poker Run will take place during Lacey Day on Saturday, Aug. 13, with registration starting at 9 a.m. at the township Municipal Building on Lacey Road and bikers setting off on the 97-mile route at 11 a.m.
Riders and their passengers will collect poker cards at five stops to make a poker hand. They will get their first card at the onset of the run, then head to Bamber Lake Fire Company, wind past Batsto Village to Lower Bank Tavern in Burlington County, go back to Bamber Lake Fire Company and end at on Manchester Avenue, where Lacey Day will take place.
The rider with the best poker hand will win a prize.
The cost of the run is $15 if pre-registered or $20 on Saturday. Those participating will get free food and beverages and be able to enjoy all that Lacey Day has to offer, including music, games, balloon rides and field day activities.
To pre-register, call Hodes at 732-320-6457 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the Poker Run at Lacey Day, the Lacey Dive Team will be selling tee-shirts to raise money for the Gary Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund. The is seeking donations for their 9/11 memorial monument, which will feature a piece of World Trade Center steel. And, the will be selling tickets for the Cole Brothers Circus they are sponsoring on Aug. 15 and 16.
While the Lacey EMS has no other fundraisers planned at the moment, a mailing recently went out to Lacey Township residents asking for donations. Hodes said the need for funding and volunteers is an ongoing concern.
“There are around 27,000 residents of the entire township, around 17,000 of which are covered directly by us,” he said. “We are always looking for new volunteers. The qualities that make a good EMS volunteer are a deep desire to help their community, the integrity and personal responsibility to work in an environment of limited supervision and the availability to commit to devoting some of their free time to the organization.”
Hodes said the squad includes a Cadet Corps made up of high school students ages 16 to 18 who can ride along on calls and attend Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) school. He said their squad also is fed new members through the Emergency Services Club.
Persons interested in joining Lacey EMS will receive their initial EMT and CPR training for free. As a trained EMT, they have the opportunity to get a job with a paid EMS Service, according to Hodes.
“For anyone looking for extra money or a career change, they can start out with a volunteer EMS organization to get some experience, building the qualifications to work for a number of paid companies,” said Hodes. “Personally, I started out when I was 17 as a member of Lanoka Harbor Volunteer EMS then progressed through the paid and volunteer EMT ranks, worked all around New Jersey, later becoming a Paramedic. This experience combined with my firefighter training and background led me to now be a contractor for the FAA at the Atlantic City Airport where I conduct airport firefighting research.”
Those interested in getting involved in Lacey EMS may call 609-693-9510 or attend a monthly meeting the second Wednesday of the month.