Bruce Mandel, captain of the Maplewood Volunteer First Aid Squad, died suddenly on Oct. 3. He was 47. He leaves behind his wife, Camille, and two children, one in the fourth grade and one in second grade at Golda Och Academy in West Orange.
According to reports, Mandel had just transported a patient to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston and was returning to Maplewood when he started to feel ill. Although he was being taken back to Saint Barnabas by ambulance, he died en route.
The funeral was held Tuesday morning, Oct. 4.
Members of Congregation Beth El in South Orange, he and his wife both served on the committee for the 2011 Spring Fling of the Young Leadership Division of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ.
“Bruce was an incredibly dedicated father and someone who devoted his life to helping other people,” said Beth El’s Rabbi Francine Roston. “I think we can honor him by following his example and taking care of his family at this horribly difficult time.”
In addition to his volunteer duties with the First Aid Squad, Mandel worked as an EMT professional. According to an Aug. 12, 2010, profile in the Maplewood Patch, he ran a CPR/first aid training business called Lifeshot Medical and Security Training and KSI (Kadima Solutions Inc.), which provided equipment for first responders.
Maplewood town clerk Elizabeth Fritzen issued a statement announcing Mandel’s death.
“Needless to say the Maplewood Fire Department personnel has taken this very sadly, as well as we all will,” she wrote. “A great loss to Maplewood and those in need.”
Administrators at the Golda Och Academy, the Conservative day school, said the principal and a guidance counselor spoke to second- and fourth-graders, addressing their grief and fears.
“I wish I could say this is the first time a parent in our school has died,” said head of school Joyce Raynor. “Unfortunately, there have been so many.”
She said the school attempts first to “calm children’s fears” and next to prepare them for what to expect when they visit a shiva house.
“The first is more abstract — we want to respond to the questions and the worries the children have,” she said. “Children are sad for their friend, and they also want to know what it means for me — if her father can die, can mine?”
The school also sent a letter to parents detailing what measures the school has taken and offering resources for carrying on conversations with children.