The Pennington First Aid Squad Logo

The Pennington First Aid Squad Logo

The Pennington First Aid Squad Logo

picture missing, see caption

Caption (mouse over)

Wheeled Coach

Looking to Volunteer with a First Aid Squad?

Pennington First Aid Squad is not accepting applications. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact our partner squads, Union Fire Co. & Rescue Squad or  Hopewell Fire Department and Emergency Medical Unit for more information.

Heather Varrasse

It is with deep sadness that the Pennington First Aid Squad informs its members of the loss of their friend and colleague, Heather Varrasse, on Sunday, December 4, 2022. Heather joined the squad in 1997 and was a member in good standing for 25 years. Throughout that time, she served the squad as 1st and 2nd Assistant Captain and NJ State First Aid Council 9th District Delegate. She distinguished herself as Top Responder once and Top Ten Responder fourteen times. Heather responded to 2172 calls throughout her volunteer career with PFAS. Heather was also a past Chief of EMS with Hopewell Fire Department and Emergency Medical Unit and a 911 dispatcher at LifeComm and Mercer County Central. She was 42 years old.

Monday evening, December 5th at 6-8 pm, members are invited to the squad building for an informal time to grieve and remember our dear Sister Heather.

PFAS in mourning for loss of Heather Varrasse

PFAS to Shut Its Doors

After 68 years of continuous 911-response to the community, the Pennington First Aid Squad (PFAS) will stop responding to emergency calls at midnight on February 28, 2022. The squad will go out of business shortly after that date.

This decision is not unique, for many volunteer first aid squads throughout New Jersey have had to make similar decisions. Despite ongoing membership drives, PFAS has suffered from steadily declining volunteer EMTs over the last seven-to-eight years. Many senior members have aged out. Younger college and high school members have been a vital support but most left after their school years ended or they took paid jobs in EMS. Volunteers in the 25-60 age group who stayed and became officers and top responders have been few, and since 2018, none. COVID hit hard and accelerated the attrition.

At the beginning of 2021 the squad realized its significant problems as attrition continued and new applications flagged, despite the "end" of the COVID pandemic. Squad leadership pursued several avenues to help ease staffing difficulties, including ramping up our recruitment and retention efforts, and trying to expand the use of paid EMTs to supplement the volunteers. Sadly, no solution was enough to overcome the challenges we faced.

Despite the dwindling number of volunteers, the remaining PFAS EMTs have continued to answer the nearly 1300 calls PFAS responds to annually. Amazingly, we accomplished this with less than 4% scratches (calls needing mutual aid). Despite all our efforts to continue volunteer service, the lack of trained personnel has left the squad with no other option than to disband.

While it is with great regret that we came to this decision, the members of PFAS leave behind a legacy of service to the community that will live on in the memory of those whom we've helped in their time of need and their families. Our work over the years has been made possible by the generous support of our community, by generous donations from the community, and the support of local government. We would like to thank everyone who helped support us over the years.

Appreciation Dinner

Members and guests enjoyed the first recognition dinner since the COVID pandemic began at Villa Francesco.

flyer for dinner

Members and guests

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Launches

Members should be aware that the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline can now be reached at the 3-digit phone number, 988, or by webchat at

The goals for the Lifeline are to:

In about 2% of contacts, counselors will determine that someone is at imminent risk of harming themselves or others. The Lifeline will then contact 911 to dispatch emergency services.

Civilian Service Award to PFAS Members for CPR save

James Li and Naomi McCarty were honored with a Civilian Service Award presented by Chief James Rosso in a ceremony at the Hopewell Township Committee Meeting. The award was for their part in the save of a 5 year old child in cardiac arrest. Complete text is available.

Award to PFAS EMS and Township Police

Award to Sergeant Panzano and Officer Crincoli of the Hopewell Township Police and EMT Naomi McCarty and James Li of the Pennington First Aid Squad.

Mercer County Fireman's Association Memorial Service

Members of the PFAS attended the service which honored the 60+ fire, EMS, and auxiliary service members from Mercer county who have died within the last year. PFAS members Naomi McCarty, James Li, and Kirk Schmitt honored charter member Carl Lauricella who was active in the 1950s and 1960s when the Pennington First Aid Squad was the Pennington Post 413 American Legion First Aid Squad and and honored President and Assistant Captain Shelley Pennington active from 2017 until her untimely death in 2021.

4-May-2022 Memorial flowers and plaque

Memorial plaque and flowers. One white chrysthanemum placed by family or active members for each deceased member.

8000 Calls

EMT Kirk Schmitt answered his 8000th call today. Since joining the PFAS in 1989, EMT Schmitt has often been the top responder. He has also served as Captain and First and Second Assistant Captain. He is currently Treasurer of the PFAS. He has been webmaster for the Squad since 2007. His call total is the highest of any PFAS member past or present.

2-Dec-2018 MVA, Ewing

Naomi McCarty, Shelley Pennington, Kirk Schmitt, 2 car headon MVA, 2-Dec-2018 at 2AM, 1800 Pennington Road, 8 to trauma centers, 1 died later, units called from Trenton, Morrisvillle, Hamilton, Ewing, Pennington, Hopewell, Titusville, Princeton.

PFAS Remembers 911 Atacks

PFAS along with members from all Hopewell Valley police and fire departments participated in a solemn remembrance of the 911 attacks and those lost.

Aberger and Schmitt with former ambulance 151-2

Julie Aberger and Kirk Schmitt, the only PFAS members who are still active with PFAS and responded to New York on 911. Behind them is 151-2, the ambulance that responded with 6 PFAS members (Leo Castenada, Kirk Schmitt, Zay Risinger, Steve Friedman, Eldrid Truelove, and Julianna Aberger) to lower Manhattan. 151-2 now lives out its life as a Hopewll township police department special services vehicle after retiring from PFAS.

Remnants of Hurricane Ida

Two PFAS ambulance crews responded to the successful rescue of 3 Hopewell Township police officers caught in flood waters from the remnants of hurricane Ida. Companies from Hopewell Valley and throughout Mercer County responded to the call for help and were able to bring the officers to safety. More on the rescue can be found at

PFAS weathered the storm, and responded to several other water rescues despite having to relocate our ambulances to higher ground as flood waters rose to within feet of the ambulance bay doors. Ida, Sandy, and Irene all came within a few inches of entering the PFAS building.

flood waters in front of PFAS building

Flood waters and stranded vehicles in front of the PFAS building. Drivers were able to walk out. Water came to ambulance bay doors.

Observer Program Resumes

The observer program lets you try riding on an ambulance before you commit to formal training. It also lets the PFAS see if you are serious about riding as a volunteer EMT before we pay for your course. The observer program was suspended during COVID. We are pleased to announce it has been re-instated and encourge persons interested in applying to click on Join or the Join tab above to learn more.

Shelley Pennington

The Pennington First Aid Squad is in grief over the loss yesterday of President Shelley Pennington. Shelley was only with the PFAS for four years but her impact was tremendous. She was a dynamic, enthusiastic, always positive force for improvement in the Squad. She rapidly moved from member, to driver, to crew chief, to 2nd Assistant Captain before taking over the most responsible role of President. As she noted, if I can fly jets for the Navy and UPS, I can drive an ambulance. She responded to 1064 calls for service in her short time and was the number 2 or 3 responder for 4 years. She was a driver for numerous improvements to our building that made life easier for volunteers. A memorial service will be held for Shelley at the Pennington United Methodist Church tomorrow at 530 PM. Pictures and biographies of Shelley. More about Shelley may be found at MercerMe.

PFAS in mourning for loss of Shelley Pennington

PFAS Goes All in for Power Stretchers

PFAS has had a power lift, self-loading stretcher, the Ferno IN∫X, on its van ambulance 151-2 for 4 years. The lifting and loading feature has been used thousands of times. It has saved much back strain and been a boon for our older and smaller members.

This year we budgeted to add another power stretcher to one of our box ambulances but a generous donation from Kirk and Bonnie Schmitt made it possible to purchase two Stryker Power-Pro XT stretchers so we could equip both box ambulances, 151-1 and 151-3. The first was accepted this week and the second should be installed next week. Some members have been trained already and all have expressed pleasure with the design, operation and weight of the Stryker stretcher. The stretcher has been used on calls.

members practicing with Stryker Power-Pro XT stretcher

Members Richard Gordon (left) and Arthur Bogad (right) practice with Stryker Power-Pro while Captain John Muccioli (back) looks on.

John Matthews

We were saddened to hear of the passing of John Matthews, dispatcher 137. John was active with the Pennington First Aid Squad in the 1980s.

John Pollock

We were saddened to hear of the passing today of John Pollock, dispatcher 53. John was active with the Pennington First Aid Squad in the 1970s as a 5-pointer and EMT. He was Monday night crew chief and a delegate to the NJ State First Aid Council.

Operation Blue Angel

Residents of the PFAS district in Hopewell Township may take advantage of the Hopewell Township police program, "Operation Blue Angel".

Eligible residents 55 years of age or older and live alone or will be alone for extended periods of time on a regular basis; or persons with a medical condition(s) that could lead to incapacitation and who live alone or are alone for extended periods of time on a regular basis; or live with another individual and meet any of the requirements.

The program consists of a lockbox, which will be owned and maintained by the Police Department, which will be placed on the participant’s door by Police personnel. The lockbox will contain a key to the residence (which the resident must supply). The key will only be accessed by responding police officers in the event of an emergency where officers cannot gain access to the residence. The Operation Blue Angel program lockbox will not be accessed by anyone for any other means.

More information is available on the Township website.

Hopewell Township police blue angel logo

Officers and Trustees for 2021 Installed via ZOOM meeting

2021 Officers

Top row, left to right: Shelley Pennington (President), Kirk Schmitt (Treasurer), Caitlyn Chione (Second Assistant Captain)
Second row, left to right: Naomi McCarty (Vice President), James Li (Trustee), Heather Varrasse (First Assistant Captain)
Third row, left to right: Arthur Bogad (Trustee), Joan Schwarzwalder (Recording Secretary), John Muccioli (Captain)
Bottom row, left to right: Tara Long (Corresponding Secretary), Neal Blackwell (Trustee)

Click on image for larger view

More items may be found HERE