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January 28, 2011

NJ volunteers fight 2-EMTs-per-ambulance law

States News Service

TRENTON, N.J. — Legislation aimed at making wholesale changes to New Jersey's emergency services system was amended to remove a provision opposed by the 9th District Delegation that would have required two EMTs to staff an ambulance operated by a basic life support first aid, rescue, or ambulance squad. The measure, A-2095, which is the companion measure of S-818, was recently considered by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

In response to serious concerns raised by local volunteer EMS squads, Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove urged in testimony submitted to the Committee that the provision be removed. Local squads feared that the two-EMTs-per-ambulance requirement would force volunteer squads to disband.

The 9th District Lawmakers issued the following statement regarding the recent legislative development:

"As we explained in our testimony, the two-EMTs-per-ambulance requirement would have had a negative ripple effect in Ocean County. As proof of the profound level of concern in the County, we directed the Committee's attention to the more than 200 letters signed by local residents in opposition to this specific provision of the legislation.

"To give these residents a greater voice, our Delegation had forwarded these letters, which were part of a petition drive started by the Silver Ridge Park First Aid Squad, to the State House for entry into the official public record of testimony. Berkeley Township Councilwoman Judy Noonan, Mr. Joseph R. Busse, President of the Silver Ridge Park First Aid Squad and Clifford B. Wright acting on behalf of the New Jersey State First Aid Council were all instrumental in conveying the concerns of both senior communities and local EMS squads that would have been possibly affected by the legislation.

"Volunteer EMS squads provide high-level critical services to our communities at a cost far lower than paid personnel. If municipalities were compelled to hire paid personnel, residents would likely see increases in property tax and/or significant reductions in local services would ensue.

"While closely monitoring this legislation, our Delegation was always mindful of the number of senior communities in our Legislative District that relied on volunteer EMS squads and, therefore, would have been disparately impacted had the legislation not been amended. The actions taken by the Committee are a clear example of how residents can play a significant role in the legislative process."

Following its release by the Committee, A-2095 was referred to Second Reading in the Assembly. The companion measure, S-818, remains lodged in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

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