The Hackettstown First Aid & Rescue Squad was officially started on April 1st of 1951. A man by the name of Tony Frontera a local business man of Hackettstown, was the driving force behind the forming a First Aid Squad. Hackettstown prior to this period had no team of first responders who could assist the members in their time of need. The transformation and organization of the squad took place one evening in a bar. The American legion had an ambulance and the only way to get that ambulance was for a doctor to call for it. So Tony Frontera and 5 other men while sitting in a bar decided they should do something about it. Without an ambulance, they purchased a first aid kit and a stretcher. There were a total of 10 charter members. If they received a call these supplies were kept in Tony Frontera shoe shop. It was located on Main Street in the area of where Harpers Bagels currently is. Before they had a whistle they used the phone chain system. One of the members, Tony Meekers, his wife used to get the call for help and then she would dispatch the men. As this graduated to more and more calls, the legion donated the squad their ambulance.
The squad was formed as a corporation in 1951. Members who started with the squad were required back then to have standard and advanced first aid training. They had no helicopter and no MIC unit to assist, just the squad. It wasn't until the 70's when the squad started sending volunteers for EMT training.
After some time the squad went to an answering service, LaBarre’s Taxi. You would call the taxi service and they would send out the tones that alerted the squad. The first piece of equipment designed by members of the squad was the "Crash truck". Designed by the members was a 1952 GMC which was built at Goldcrest in Dunellen, NJ. It was a one of a kind machine which was featured in several magazines. This crash truck assisted in quite a few accidents. Long before rt. 80 was here all traffic used to come down routes 57 and 46 which ran right into Hackettstown.
The old squad building, which was falling apart used to be where the Department of Public Works is located now. The squad then purchased a piece of property on Maple Ave, which sources say was at one point a swamp. The town was good enough to let the guys who worked for the DPW, Ken Strowbridge, Stanley Runyan and Mike Mitskowitz to aid in the foundation of our building by letting them use the town dump trucks to haul in tons of gravel and top soil. Local contractors, such as Charlie Tillou donated a lot of time, effort and materials which aided in the construction of this building.
The Hackettstown First Aid & Rescue Squad building on 123 Maple Avenue was built and dedicated in 1966.
Along with Hackettstown being serviced, the squad originally covered Independence Township, Allamuchy, Indian Park, Long Valley up to Drakestown Road and Mansfield Township up to the blinking light at Port Murray Road. It totaled about 100 square miles of coverage. The squad would answer approximately 1,800 calls a year which kept them very busy. One of the reasons for the Rescue Squads success was also due to the generosity of all the towns’ members.
Hackettstown First Aid & Rescue Squad
"We're There When Needed"