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Monday, March 25, 2013


The boardwalk at Point Pleasant is currently being rebuilt and spirits are high!

by Steven P. Velasquez
March 24, 2013

Jersey Strong!

So what does "Jersey Strong" actually mean? It's tough to define in words alone, but perhaps some imagery will help.

As October 2012 gave way to November, the second most expensive storm to strike the U.S. ever, gave a direct blow to the Jersey Shore, costing billions, devastating thousands and killing more than 100 (Source: Time). Hurricane Sandy was second only to Hurricane Katrina which devastated the Gulf Coast in 2008.

February 6, 2013 was the 100 day mark after Sandy's landfall. Now April rapidly approaches, and as always, once the camera crews leave, so does the public interest and the support so desperately needed to recover. Just ask the people of Haiti and Louisiana. Despite these truths, the industrious and resilient people of  New Jersey are rebuilding and remain - Jersey Strong.

Despite the shameless acts of the politicians and the burgeoning bureaucracy known as FEMA, the people of New Jersey have been frantically rebuilding their homes, businesses and neighborhoods in an attempt to normalize their lives and be open for business for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, when NJ officially kicks off the summer tourism season.

Today, I took my family to Asbury Park, Belmar and Point Pleasant on a slow lazy ride to get a birds-eye view of things going on. The recovery and amount of progress was impressive! The one thing that really got to me and gave me pause was reaching the boardwalk at Point Pleasant and seeing the children's rides WERE OPEN!!! With the upcoming Easter Weekend a week away, I saw sidewalks full of families, smiling children and an occasional Easter bonnet atop a child's head.

For years and years, one of the Velasquez family traditions was to come to this area around this time to plant the seeds of summer enthusiasm in the children's heads. I have carried on that tradition and my fears of having to come up with an alternate plan were dashed with this beautiful sighting. I was almost driven to tears at the sights and sounds.
There were still stark reminders of the devastation and the monumental work-load ahead. The strength of this storm has left indelible marks in these storm struck communities and one can not help but feel for those affected.

Waffles & More was hollowed out by the devastating winds and surging waters of Hurricane Sandy
That said, what was even greater than the damage, was the strength, optimism and spirit of the people and the businesses of this area. The marquis in front of Red's Lobster Pot Restaurant enthusiastically displayed their expected opening date and the fact that they are PSYCHED!!!

The Norma-K is one of Point Pleasant's most popular fishing boats

Other businesses and industries of the area are also poised for success this year like Point Pleasant's fishing industries. Boats are in the water and schedules are posted to welcome what one hopes will be a great year in this new chapter of Jersey history, Jersey Strong history.

The Jersey Shore is OPEN FOR BUSINESS!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013


by Steven P. Velasquez
March 19, 2013

There are times in a person's life when one gets dangerously close to physical events around them, at great peril to themselves. Some people have jobs that bring them closer to such danger more often. Some of us call it "a day at the office."

EMS MVC in Prince Georges County VA
An emergency service worker is often tasked with responding to MVC's (motor vehicle collisions). Too often, responders are directly involved in MVC's as part of their job requires expeditious driving (not reckless driving) to emergencies. This calculated risk is necessary as time is of the essence when it comes to protecting human life. Compound that with a greatly distracted, often inebriated, densely populated area, and you now have many of the ingredients of  New Jersey's urban environments (Camden, Trenton, Jersey City, Paterson and Newark). 

We had just cleared up after BLS cancelled us on a call in Newark, NJ. We left the scene and proceeded down a side street, then turned left on Stuyvesant Ave (a much larger street). It was after three a.m. and there was no traffic to avoid. I could see one slow moving taxi approaching me in the opposite lane; traffic as usual, and no  perceived threats.

As the taxi passed the front of my ambulance and was beginning to vanish in my left blind-spot, their was an enormous explosion! I heard and felt the incredibly loud event and was shaken by the concussive force. My ambulance shook violently and my window was showered with debris. My partner and I immediately wondered if we had been hit but there was not a significant enough jolt to our vehicle for that. Our second thought was that we may have been nicked or side-swiped. A quick view out my window revealed that the taxi had been struck head on, and at an incredibly high speed. I realized then that the striking vehicle was headed right for my rear and had swerved at the last second, but also realized my partner and I may still not be out of danger. We assumed this vehicle was stolen and likely was occupied by less than law-abiding citizens. We punched the accelerator to avoid being anywhere near them had they exited the vehicle with guns blazing.
 Startled and shaken, I notified our dispatch center (REMCS) to send a BLS unit, our heavy rescue, a supervisor and law enforcement. The troops were on the way. We went up about a block and swung around to get a bird's eye view of the damage,  calculate the resources needed, and an accurate patient count. It was then we noticed the striking vehicle was in full reverse, chirping its' tires and backing away from the crushed taxi. Once freed, the vehicle turned "gangsta style" and took off up the side street.

Thanks to seatbelts and airbags, the taxi driver sustained only minor injuries. By my assessment, this man should have been maimed or dead. The full-sized sedan (taxi) was crushed with more than two feet of intrusion into the engine compartment. We knew the striking vehicle was a Jeep of some sort as their entire grill, bumper and license plate were left in the wreckage.

While we see this kind of event every single night, we usually see it after the damage is done and are not witnesses to the impact event.
I spent the rest of the night pretty rattled and could think of a thousand places I'd rather be; with my daughters particularly. I couldn't help but begin to think of the dozens of ways that same set of circumstances, with only a slight modification in variables, could have changed my, or my partner's life forever. I couldn't help but feel - spared.