His official resignation from his role as Long Valley First Aid Chief will take effect on May 31, but Hagen Sniffen, who has volunteered his time to serve in the role for the last two and-a-half years, will continue on with his passion to help people in a professional law enforcement position.
Assuming the role of First Aid Chief is Rob Cline, who currently serves as assistant chief.
Sniffen, who began working with the Long Valley First Aid Squad in 2003, looks back fondly on his service to the community.
Prior to his role as chief, he served as lieutenant for the Long Valley First Aid Squad, an entirely volunteer-run organization with more than 60 volunteers.
He has been actively involved in emergency services work since he was 17-years-old.
“I knew when I was 13 or 14 years old that I wanted to be involved in emergency services. But you have to be at least 16-years-old to volunteer with any kind of emergency services whether it be the fire department or first aid squad,” said Sniffen.
He said he was trained in first aid when he was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, and it was then he decided that this was the direction for him.
“I was intrigued by the whole concept of emergency services, even back then. I couldn’t wait to get involved and help my community, but my parents said I had to wait until I was old enough to drive myself to the calls,” said Sniffen.
He said he’s not sure where the desire came from, but he was powerfully drawn to it.
“I had a desire to help people and I found that I wasn’t affected by dealing with crisis,” said Sniffen.
He said while most people might be hesitant about rushing headlong into an emergency situation, but the average person can handle the work.
“When faced with an emergency situation, you learn not to think about the blood and the guts. We go through a lot of training to help people,” said Sniffen. “We’re trained not to hesitate. There are obviously things you have to be careful about, but you learn not to second-guess yourself. You just continue no matter what and come up with a plan of action.”
Sniffen said, when it comes to emergency services, there’s a job for everyone, even making a 911 call is an important step in taking action in a crisis situation.
Sniffen said as he exits his role, he is most concerned about budget cuts that are affecting the First Aid squad.
“We are not ,” said Sniffen.
He said the Township Committee has postponed the purchase of a new ambulance now for two years. The vehicle would cost $180,000, according to Sniffen.
He said the ambulance that needs to be replaced has broken down in two emergency situations.
“We were able to use one of our other two ambulances, but the breakdown delayed the transport of the patient,” said Sniffen.
He said if there is a major motor vehicle accident, which was the case in late April of 2011, all three ambulances would be needed.
With the cost of first aid supplies and equipment rising, Sniffen is especially concerned about the pressure that the budget cuts place on the squad.
He said, “If you think about it, we are a miniscule part of the budget, but we perform a critical service.”
The current annual budget for supplies such as band aids and oxygen is $38,000, which amounts to about $2.35 per resident, said Sniffen.
For anyone who is thinking about getting involved in emergency services, Sniffen said he strongly recommends following the path of community service.
The Long Valley Volunteer First Aid Squad is always looking for additional help, according to Sniffen. Volunteers are required to log 130 hours of training.
“We have volunteers on the squad from all walks of life, many different backgrounds and all ages,” said Sniffen.
He said, “I think a lot of people are hesitant to get involved because they think that every call is a bloody, gory mess, but that’s not the case.”