EMT Joins Squad, Finds Second Family
Sam Greendyk volunteers more than 24 hours each week.
- Name: Sam Greendyk, 20, has served as a volunteer on the Montville Township First Aid Squad since he was 16. Greendyk and his dad, Pete, joined the squad together. “For quite a while we were the Friday night crew,” said Greendyk. “It was reassuring. It is nice when you’re young like that, and you have a tough call, we could go home and talk about it.” While the father and son team no longer work a regular 12-hour shift together, they often find themselves together on scramble calls, when a second ambulance crew is needed because the primary crew has been called out. “We’re kind of like a crew in a box."
- What Part of Town: Greendyk and his family moved into his mom’s childhood home in Montville on Christmas Day in 1996.
- Why This Squad: Originally Greendyk joined the first aid squad because of his interest in becoming a law enforcement professional. “I wanted to be a police officer for quite a while and I thought it would be a great way to meet the cops in town,” he said. His decision to volunteer has allowed him to experience law enforcement from a different perspective. “You see the side of law enforcement where police officers come out to help old ladies, and where they are practicing actual enforcement. It has given me a good idea of what municipal police work is all about.”
- Time: Each week Greendyk volunteers for a standing 12-hour shift. He also regularly fills in on scramble calls, and covers for other members who need to take a day off. Greendyk also holds an administrative post. As the Night Lieutenant, he is responsible for training programs and monitoring the evening crews. “The crews need very little direct supervision,” Greendyk said. “It’s just my job to make sure we do have a full crew so we are ready to go.” He also makes sure crews rehearse and practice skills each month to insure they are prepared for anything. Most weeks he spends a total of about 24 hours volunteering. “I’m here most nights.”
- Education: A graduate of the Netherlands Reformed Christian School in Pompton Plains, where his dad is also a teacher, Greendyk is a criminal justice major at Seton Hall University. This summer he completed a 16-hour-per-week internship with the New Jersey State Police. “That’s really my primary goal,” said Greendyk of the level of police work he hopes to pursue. “But, with the job situation being what it is, I’m going to apply everywhere.”
- Career: In addition to attending Seton Hall, and volunteering at the Montville Township First Aid Squad, Greendyk works with the Atlantic Health Ambulance Squad. His schedule ranges anywhere from 24 to 48 hours each week. Atlantic Health’s ambulances take patients to Morristown, Overlook, and other hospitals in the region.
- Most Rewarding: “Absolutely being able to help people,” said Greendyk. “When you walk through the door and people go, ‘Oh, the ambulance is here.’ Now they’re reassured. They know that we know what we are doing and we’re able to get them to the hospital. And that we can kind of help them a little bit to make sense out of a crazy situation.” The EMT said he and others on the squad also appreciate the letters of thanks that the squad’s secretary reads at each monthly meeting. “It’s great to know that people appreciate what we do, and that what we do makes a difference.” Without those letters, members of the squad often have no idea what the ultimate outcome is for a patient. “After we put them in the ER bed, we have to go,” said Greendyk. “That really makes a big difference for us and helps us do what we do.”
- Most Difficult: “We see people at their best and we see people at their worst,” Greendyk said. He said that it is difficult to see people under the influence of drugs or alcohol, particularly if they are under arrest. “They’re still our patients, and we still take care of them the best that we can,” he said. “And, sometimes you feel for them even more because you know that they are going through a really tough time. And, that’s tough.” Greendyk said they're are other tough parts to the job. “Sometimes you’ll know that you didn’t make a difference, no matter how hard you tried,” he said. “And that someone’s life still ended. It was their time. Even though you did the absolute best that you could.”
- Favorite Thing About Montville Township: “The people. There are so many diverse people,” said Greendyk. He said that, just like in the Montville Patch First Responder and Know Your Neighbor columns, “You see all different races, and people from different walks of life, and different careers. You are constantly meeting new people every day.” Greendyk appreciates that in Montville there are “always things going on. It’s a great town to work in. There is always something to do.” He particularly enjoys the activities that the first aid squad attends like the Michelle Sullivan Softball Tournament and the Fourth of July celebration. “It makes the job more interesting,” he said.
- Something He Would Like to Change About Montville Township: Greendyk wishes that the community really understood the Montville Township First Aid Squad. “It’s made up volunteers providing a free service,” he said. “It’s free. People just really don’t understand that, both with the first aid squad, and the fire departments.” Roughly 90 volunteers regularly work on weekly first aid squad crews. Another 30 fill in when needed. The squad also has volunteer dispatchers who work from home to assemble crews. Greendyk explained that the first aid squad is “always looking for more help, both in volunteers and, if you’re able to, donations. At this point we run almost one hundred percent on donations.” Everything from medical supplies to ambulances must be purchased through fundraising. “Everything that we do comes out of our own pocket.”
- County Dispatching: The Montville Township Committee recently began exploring the option of moving emergency dispatching services from the Montville Public Safety Building to a regional Morris County dispatching service. Greendyk noted that if the shift in dispatching occurs, the Montville Township First Aid Squad volunteers will still respond, and the service will remain free of charge. “Any changes will happen internally,” he said.
- Hobbies: Greendyk makes time to kayak on Split Rock Reservoir. He also enjoys reading. “There’s not really too much time for anything else,” he said, because he spends most of his free time at the first aid squad.
- Wants Others To Know About the Squad: “We’re so diverse. I’ve met people here who I never would have ever met,” said Greendyk. “And, all of a sudden, we are thrown together and we’re helping to save someone’s life. I think that’s such a great feeling. We are a big second family.” Greendyk hopes people will take the time to tour the first aid squad building and learn more about the organization. He also hopes they will get involved. “Please come down here and volunteer,” he said. “We’ll be happy to have you.”
- Philosophy: “The best way you can really help yourself is by helping someone else.”