Meet South Branch Emergency Services Volunteer Rick Hannigan
It was his family’s tradition of service that led South Branch Emergency Services (SBES) Trustee Rick Hannigan to volunteer more than 49 years ago.
Rick’s dad spent more than 49 years as volunteer firefighter with the High Bridge Fire Department, where his uncles were also members and one a past chief. Rick followed their example, but on a different path. He joined High Bridge Emergency Squad - one of the agencies that merged to create SBES in 2020 – and became a volunteer EMT.
Rick, who is now 68, retired last year from AT&T, where he managed real estate operations. He has been on countless calls over the decades. “My most rewarding call happened in the 1990s when the crew I was on assisted a woman with childbirth,” he said. “I was able to help a new little person come into the world.”
His most challenging call required him to transport his own mother to a specialist to confirm an ALS diagnosis. Another member of his squad took a day off from work to help with the transport. Yet another sat with Rick during his mom’s final hours of life.
“I have developed friendships over the years that continue today,” he said. “Working side-by-side with other members in a critical situation creates a special bond that lasts a lifetime.”
“The role of family and the support they provide to emergency and fire department members is critical to a successful career. I was blessed with a family that supported my commitment and my son continues the tradition as a career fire fighter”, Rick noted.
In the years since Rick became a volunteer, much has changed in emergency medical care. There are new skills, new technologies, and new tools. “One thing that has not changed is the mission to always do what is right for the patient above everything else,” Rick said.
Rick was president of High Bridge Emergency Squad for 12 years. In recent years, High Bridge squad leaders and members concluded that a merger with Clinton First Aid & Rescue Squad to form a new organization – SBES, was the right thing to do. They merged in July 2020 and were joined in January 2022 by Hampton Emergency Squad.
“It was not an easy decision to consolidate, knowing the history of dedicated members in the High Bridge Emergency Squad, which had started with a special group of Charter Members in 1953 and continued for 67 years,” Rick said. “But doing what is right for the patient is always the right decision.”
“To meet the challenges of community growth, significant call volume increases year-over-year, and a smaller pool of volunteers to meet the demand for emergency services required a new operating model. Working together, SBES is responding to the needs of our community.”
SBES’s commitment to preserving the histories of High Bridge, Clinton, and Hampton is important, Rick said, and he was very proud when his granddaughter created a photo record of High Bridge Squad vehicles dating back to 1953.
Now that he is an SBES trustee, Rick no longer rides the ambulance. Yet he has a role in shaping the service the organization provides and its financial needs. “It’s an opportunity to provide some business perspective to an organization that provides a very critical service in our community,” he said. “It’s a position that I can fill that allows the team committed to responding to calls to handle that work. It’s a contribution that allows me to continue to serve the community.”
If helping your Hunterdon County neighbors while learning new skills and forging new friendships appeals to you, reach out to learn more! Fill out a contact form and read more about the many volunteer opportunities SBES offers at sbes365.org. No experience is necessary and training is free for members.