Watchung Rescue Squad

The Watchung Rescue Squad (WRS) will provide the Borough of Watchung and surrounding communities with prompt and skilled basic life support and rescue, free of charge. The WRS will be recognized for providing high quality services to the communities through well-trained, dedicated volunteers. The WRS will conduct its business to assure fiscal responsibility through sound business management.The WRS takes pride in its commitment to service, working as a team to provide care to those in need.

WRS Recognizes Exempt Member

Saturday, September 17, 2016   Congratulations to our 1st Lieutenant, Charles Pivnichny, for achieving Exempt member status. We appreciate your seven years of dedicated service to the Watchung Rescue Squad!



Walter Niegisch

Saturday, June 4, 2016  Members of the Watchung Rescue Squad will be attending a celebration of life service to honor Walter D. Niegisch at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, at Faith Lutheran Church, 524 South St. in New Providence. Walter was a Distinguished Life Member of our organization and an inspiration to those whom he encountered. We honor his service to the Borough of Watchung and the Watchung Rescue Squad.

Walter's Obituary: 

Research scientist at Union Carbide and patent holder in mass spectrometry; one of the original N.J. EMTs and veteran officer of Watchung Rescue Squad who led the unit during period of innovation.

On Jan. 6, 2016, Walter D. Niegisch lost a courageous battle with a debilitating neurological illness. Born June 20, 1929, in Atlantic City, N.J., Walt leaves behind a legacy of devotion to family and community. The son of German immigrants, he grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended Columbia University, earning an undergraduate degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Science followed by a graduate degree in physical chemistry from the Stevens Institute of Technology. Walt served in the U.S. Army for two years from 1954 to 1956, where his knowledge as a scientist was instrumental in the development of food preservation. After discharge, he worked for Union Carbide for more than 42 years, retiring in 1994 as senior research scientist. During his tenure at Union Carbide, Walt authored numerous scientific papers in the field of physical chemistry and had many patents to his name as a pioneer in the use of mass spectrometry.

Outside of his profession, his volunteer work with scouting, the Watchung Rescue Squad, and his church was particularly rewarding for him. He was an active member of the Watchung Rescue Squad for 33 years, joining in 1977. He served in many capacities on the board, including being elected for three terms as president. Walt was one of the first volunteer responders in New Jersey to earn his EMT certification. He was also a pioneer in the development of an extrication team for the squad. For his dedication to the Watchung Rescue Squad, Walt received the Distinguished Member Award in 1994, was a Distinguished Life Member, and was honored by the state of New Jersey as Volunteer of the Year in 2007.

His devotion to the community was not limited to membership in the Watchung Rescue Squad. For 10 years, he was an active leader in the Boy Scouts. As a longtime member of Faith Lutheran Church, he put his building and construction knowledge to good use working for Habitat for Humanity and in Appalachia building facilities for those in need. Walt's talents extended to his hobbies, including photography and tennis. As an avid photographer, he once won a New York Times photography contest.

He leaves behind his devoted wife of 60 years, Eleanor; son, Robert W. Niegisch and his wife, Carol; daughter, Karen Graboyes and her husband, Fred, and grandchildren, Kate, Megan, Luke, and Michael.

He will be missed for his tenacious strength of character, perseverance, and dedication to his family, friends, and neighbors. Donations may be made in his honor to the Watchung Rescue Squad.

Published in Star-Ledger on Jan. 17, 2016



Stephen Gussis

Thursday, May 26, 2016  Watchung Rescue Squad was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of member Stephen Gussis on Thursday, May 26th. Steve was a member of the Squad for 24 years, actively riding the ambulance for many of those years and impressing the membership with his dedicated service, earning the Squad's Outstanding Service Award.  He will be greatly missed.

Services will be held at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Westfield (250 Gallows Hill Road) on Tuesday, May 31st from 10 to 11 am, followed by an 11 am funeral service.

Stephen's Obituary:

Stephen G. Gussis, 92, was born in New Brunswick together with his twin  brother, Arthur in 1923, died on May 26, 2016. After graduating from New Brunswick High School in 1942, he enrolled in the U.S. Air Corps in 1943 during World War II. He served as a Staff Sergeant with the 20th Air Force on the island of Guam working on B29 Bomber engines until the war’s end. Returning to New Brunswick, he enrolled in Middlesex County Vocational School to obtain his barbering license, following in his father’s footsteps. He ran the Campus Barber Shop adjacent to the Rutgers campus for many years.

His interests included travel, golf, softball and bowling, during which activity he met his wife, Violet who predeceased him in 2005.

He attended the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Westfield and supported the Church Philoptochos Society with two Memorial Scholarships, one in memory of his wife, Violet. Steve also served as the Secretary of the local chapter of AHEPA. Living all his married life in Watchung, he was a volunteer EMT with the Watchung First Aid Squad for 24 years for which he was awarded it’s Outstanding Service Award.

Steve was preceded in death by his wife, Violet; his sister, Katherine Achaves; his brothers, Arthur and Kostas and his step-children, Gordon Muffett and Doris Esposito.

He is survived by his brother, Christopher of Massachusetts, his step daughter, Bonnie Muffett of Wisconsin, many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grand nephews, step grandchildren and step great grandchildren. He is also survived by his dedicated aide and “buddy”, Tomasz.

A visitation will be held on Tuesday, May 31st  from 10 to 11 am at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 250 Gallows Hill Road, Westfield followed by an 11 am funeral service. Entombment will be at Clover Leaf Memorial Park, Woodbridge.

Memorial donations may be made to the Stephen & Violet Gussis Scholarship Fund, c/o the Philoptochos Society of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 250 Gallows Hill Road, Westfield, NJ 07090 or to the Watchung Rescue Squad, 10 Stirling Avenue, Watchung, NJ 07069.



National EMS Week

Sunday, May 15, 2016  National EMS Week is upon us and this year’s theme is "Called to Care.” WRS would like to thank the community of Watchung for their recognition of our efforts, their continued support, and their generosity. And together we should recognize the true heroes who answer the call to serve their community and help others through one of the most frightening times of their lives: the dedicated, compassionate group of people that make up our 'family', without whom the Squad would cease to exist.

So whether you're a cadet, a driver, or an EMT...whether you've been with us for 4 weeks or 40 years, thank you for all you do. Know how valued you are...not just this week, but every single day. Here's to you!



Watchung Rescue Squad Awards Dinner

Friday, May 13, 2016   Last Friday, May 13th, Watchung Rescue Squad had our annual awards dinner and recognized the following members:

  • Outstanding New Member: Paula Moszczynski, Francis Campos
  • Outstanding Achievement Award: Vinay Keelara
  • Past President Award: Denise Wilson
  • President's Award: Don Monetti
  • Captain's Award: Adam Wexler
  • Top Responders: Adam Wexler, Ben Dorkin, Ali Diecke
Congratulations to all those who received an award!

We'd like to thank all of the members who attended the event, as well as our honored guests including: members of the Watchung Borough Council, Watchung Fire Department, DPW, and Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad. We greatly appreciate everyone's continued dedication and support to the Watchung Rescue Squad!

Thank you to Denise Wilson for organizing the event!



Claire Ohl

Wednesday, April 20, 2016  Watchung Rescue Squad was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Distinguished Life Member, Claire Ohl on Sunday, April 10th. Claire was a member of the Squad for 32 years, actively riding the ambulance for almost 20 years and only stopping at age 82. For at least five of those years, she rode double and triple shifts of twelve hours to cover the daytime schedule and was consistently a top responder. Claire served as Treasurer for 22 years and also served on almost all other committees and offices. She received every honor the Squad awards, as well as recognition from the Borough and Somerset County.

Claire’s meticulousness was unmatched, and her contributions to the Squad innumerable. Claire worked tirelessly to fight for what was best for the organization, using her knowledge in finances and an astounding attention to detail, at one time bringing it back from a state of financial depression. She spent the later parts of her life passing on her knowledge and passion for service, instilling these values in the members that came and went through the organization, in a great effort to not only better the organization, but also better the people who were a part of it.

Claire served her Country, her Family, her Church, her Community, but most of all the Watchung Rescue Squad. She will be greatly missed.

Services will be held at Wilson Memorial Church on Saturday, April 30th at 11:00 am.



WRS Elected Officers for 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016  In late 2015, the Rescue Squad membership elected our officers for the upcoming year. The new and returning officers assumed office on January 1, 2016. They are:

Operations Officers:

  • Captain: Ali Diecke
  • 1st Lieutenant: Charles Pivnichny
  • 2nd Lieutenant: Vinay Keelara
  • Operations Sergeant: Adam Wexler
  • Administrative Sergeant: Roberto Martinez
Administrative Officers:

  • President: Logan Taylor
  • Vice President: Ben Dorkin
  • Treasurer: Robert Winston
  • Recording Secretary: Liana Sa
  • Administrative Secretary: Francis Campos
Congratulations to all our officers and thank you to those that served in 2015!



WRS Thanks Tree of Lights Supporters

Sunday, December 6, 2015  The Watchung Rescue Squad would like to thank everyone who helped make our 25th Annual Tree of Lights a resounding success:

Walt Schmiede, Lane Solon, Precision Tree Service, and all the Squad members who contributed to the set-up and ceremony.

The Watchung Fire Department, Watchung Police Department & PBA, the Department of Public Works, Watchung CERT, and Scott's Green Landscaping for their support throughout the event.

Mayor Steve Pote, the Watchung Borough Council, and Watchung Troop 32 for their participation in the dedication and lighting ceremony.

Mr. Spadafora and the Valley View Middle School Chorus and Chris Waryn and Babygrand Entertainment for music during the event.

Dunkin' Donuts and Rolf’s for providing food and refreshments.

Garden State Fireworks for a spectacular fireworks show.

The Echoes-Sentinel for their coverage of the event and many photographs, David Steinberg for creating our flyer, and everyone who shared or posted information about the event.

And finally our Watchung Borough residents and local businesses for their generous donations and continued support! Thank you all and have a safe and happy holiday season!



WRS 25th Annual Tree of Lights Festival

Wednesday, November 11, 2015  Once again the time has come for Watchung Rescue Squad's annual Tree of Lights Festival  This year's celebration will take place on Saturday, December 5th at 5:30 pm on the Village Green.

The Members of the Rescue Squad dedicate this year’s Tree of Lights in recognition of former Mayor Tony Addario and WRS member Claire Ohl, two Watchung residents, without whom, the Tree of Lights would not have been possible. 

The Tree of Lights was created in the spirit of honoring and remembering our loved ones during the holiday season. You can be part of the celebration by placing a red light on our tree in honor of or white in remembrance of a person, family, friends and others.

For more information about the event and dedication or to view the Tree of Lights recipients for 2015, please visit our Tree of Lights page.



Farewell Walter Drivet

The members of the Watchung Rescue Squad express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of former member Walter Drivet.

Walter served the Squad in the beginning of his EMS career and rose to become a paramedic and EMS educator among other great achievements.

Walter was well known a mentor, leader, and friend to many members of the EMS community. He will be deeply missed.

Walter's obituary:

Some men are once in a generation. 

Walter Drivet born on December 2, 1960 served humankind for over 35 years as a paramedic, including 20 years as a special operations tactical paramedic. Walter’s relentless passion for clinical excellence inspired his student’s growth beyond the clinical arena. Walter practiced cutting edge medicine with the highest level of compassion for the most at risk populations.  His leadership as Director of the Mountain Creek Ski Patrol focused the organization into a cohesive unit advancing the medicine on the mountain. 

Mr. Drivet went to Washington D.C., graduating the DoD Police Academy Police Academy and served as a Mission Specialist for the Department of Defense. Walter’s impact extended beyond his professional building lifelong bonds on deep personal levels. 

Walter entered into eternal rest on August 28, 2015. He is survived by his beloved wife Rosie Williams Drivet, a brother, an aunt, cherished friends, and a vast number of students to carry on his legacy. 

Services for Walter will be held on Friday, September 4, 2015 from 11:00am to 3:00pm at Bergen Community College Meadowlands campus. Colleagues and friends are encouraged to pay their respect starting at 11:00am with a formal tribute beginning at 1:30pm. 

In Lieu of Flowers, it is requested that agencies or individuals direct donations in Walter’s name to the Bergen Community College Foundation, Walter Drivet Memorial Scholarship, 400 Paramus Rd, Paramus, NJ 07652, for the establishment of the Walter Drivet Memorial Scholarship.



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