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First Responder Spotlight

EMT Mike Petronella with his mother-in-law Anne Frankel.

Families Who Serve Together Stay Together

Mike Petronella of Belle Mead joined Montgomery Emergency Medical Services (MEMS) as a cadet when he was a student at Montgomery High School (MHS) 25 years ago.

“My father was a paramedic in Trenton, my mother a nurse,” Mike says. “They met on the ambulance. So, for me, it just made sense to get involved.”

While a senior at MHS, his classmate Brenda Frankel invited him to dinner one night. Mike explained that he would like to come, but was on call for the rescue squad and might have to leave if there was a call.

Sure enough, as soon as dinner was almost over, the tones dropped and Mike was off with a quick thank you and goodbye.

How’s that for a first impression on parents that would one day be in-laws?

Mike continued to ride with MEMS after graduating high school during summers and college breaks. At one point, he was living in Philadelphia and spending his Fridays at Brenda and Anne’s house in Skilllman so he could respond to local calls.

After Mike and Brenda got married, life took them to New York, where Mike volunteered with local rescue squads.

Meanwhile, mother-in-law Anne retired from running a business and decided to join MEMS. She said she finally had the time to dedicate to the training and duty schedule.

Anne has been a staple on the Wednesday day crew ever since. She also has been vice president, a trustee, and the uniform/equipment manager.

Almost ten years after Anne joined, Mike and Brenda decided to move their family back to Montgomery. Within weeks, Mike was back with MEMS, listing Anne as one of his references on the application.

Both Anne and Mike say that it’s important to give back to the community.

Anne especially values the connections she made with her patients and the ability to help during what can be very stressful situations for them.

“Running with the squad also reminds me how your life can change in a heartbeat and to be grateful for what I have and not take any of it for granted,” Anne says.

Mike adds: “I’ve been in EMS for 25 years now, across three states, and MEMS has always been family for me. You’re giving back to the community you care about, with the people you care about.” ■

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