The call for help came on Easter Sunday 2021: Automobile accident on Route 78. A family was onboard and a woman remained trapped inside the car.
South Branch Emergency Services Volunteer Emory Zacarias was among those responding. Using the specialized tools he learned to use as a Rescue Associate, he popped open the car’s doors and trunk, providing multiple ways for the crew to reach her and carefully get strapped onto a backboard.
Emory wedged himself into the open trunk, balancing on the bumper, to help gently ease the woman out. She looked up at him and they exchanged a few words. “I could tell through what she said and the expression on her face that she knew we had her, she knew she was safe now,” said Emory, then 18. “I knew right then that this is what I want to do, this is where I want to be.”
Once she was out of the car, Emory quickly went into medical mode. He had not yet completed his EMT certification, so he assisted the SBES EMTs by retrieving the bandages, sheers, and other equipment they needed. Within a matter of minutes, SBES and other first-responders had extricated the woman from the car, provided on-scene care, and placed her on a helicopter that flew her to the hospital.
“I was one of many people on the scene, and I was able to do my part,” Emory said. “It was really touching to be able to be there for this family and make a difference in a horrible situation.”
Emory, now 20, lives in Franklin Township. In late 2021, he became a certified EMT and is now working on water, ice, and technical rescue credentials. Emory is a nursing student at Raritan Valley Community College and is a manager at the Clinton McDonald’s restaurant.
Emory’s volunteer emergency service career began when he was 16 and lived in Warren County. He assisted on the Phillipsburg Rescue Squad as a junior member, who assisted the EMTs on calls. His family moved to Franklin Township in summer 2019. “Whenever I worked at McDonalds, I would hear the SBES ambulance and rescue trucks drive by. I also saw members of the Squad around the community,” he remembered. “It reminded me how much I had enjoyed helping people and being part of the community, so I looked into South Branch, and it ended up being exactly what I was looking for.”
Becoming an EMT has helped Emory become more confident in his quest to become an RN. “I know I am prepared, and I can go into new situations and learn from them rather than be afraid of them,” he said.
Being an EMT has also broadened his understanding of the general human condition and made him more patient – even with grumpy customers. “Working in EMS, we see people at their most vulnerable, and it’s given me an understanding that everybody is going through something,” he said. “I try to be my best self whenever I interact with anyone, to create the best experience for all parties involved.”
Emory credits much of his increasing knowledge and personal growth to other SBES volunteers, and gives a special shout to Deputy Chief Chris Miller and Rescue Lieutenant Walter Dorf, his mentors in EMS and Rescue Services.
“I think it’s important for people to know that in this field you build relationships you can’t grow anywhere else,” Emory said. “There is a bond between all of us at SBES.”
-- 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.