Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove have alerted the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHHS) about the deep concerns raised by the local Emergency Medical Service (EMS) volunteer personnel regarding pending legislation (S-818/A-2095) that is feared will force certain volunteer EMT squads to disband and lead to a spike in property taxes.
Among the persons contacting the Delegation on this legislation were Berkeley Township Councilwoman Judy Noonan, Clifford B. Wright acting on behalf of the New Jersey State First Aid Council (NJSFAC), representing the 15th District and Mr. Joe Busse on behalf of the Silver Ridge Park First Aid Squad. According to information provided to the Delegation, the Holiday City, Holiday Heights and Silver Ridge Park emergency volunteer squads in Berkeley Township handled 7, 200 calls last year alone.
In their letter sent to DHHS Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh, the 9th District Delegation made the following remarks:
“Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel and other interested parties contacted our Delegation regarding pending legislation, S-818/ A-2095. It is feared that, if enacted, this legislation will have a cascading affect beginning with certain EMT squads being forced to disband from insufficient volunteer personnel and culminating in a traumatic cost increase for municipalities and local taxpayers. Accordingly, our Delegation respectfully requests that you consider the issues raised by these organizations if and when you or representatives of the Department are asked to testify on this legislation.
“As you are most likely aware, S-818/A-2095 would provide for an expansive array of statutory requirements regarding New Jersey’s emergency medical system, most of which would be overseen by the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). The provision that is generating the most concern is the requirement that basic life support service first aid, rescue, and ambulance squad shall staff each ambulance with at least two emergency medical technicians while it is in service.
“It is our understanding that this requirement alone would force EMT squads with limited personnel to disband and leave communities without any volunteer emergency service. The resulting fallout would compel municipalities to increase property taxes and/or make deep cuts in critical services in order to cover the cost for paid emergency service personnel to perform the services once performed by volunteers at little or no cost to the public. This, in essence, would also represent an increase in the cost of health care for state residents. The cost impact in terms of tax increases will most likely be more profound in those municipalities with a greater number of senior citizens who require more frequent medical treatment from EMS personnel. What also must be taken into consideration is our state’s heavy reliance on volunteer emergency service personnel in responding to catastrophic events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.”