To The Editor:
The NJ Senate approved the anti-volunteer “EMS Redesign Bill,” A-2095/S-818, by the slimmest margin Dec. 15 and the measure is now on Gov. Christie’s desk. The volunteer EMS community is urging all New Jerseyans to contact the governor’s office to request he veto the bill, as it would spell disaster for the state’s EMS system. Our number crunching indicates the bill, if signed into law, would be impossibly expensive to implement. It would increase bureaucracy, red tape, unfunded mandates and costs for volunteers and municipalities, making it even more difficult for volunteers to continue serving their communities. The bill’s supporters view it as a jobs bill, which would drive out the volunteers, then force municipalities to hire EMS workers. Under this bill, residents accustomed to 911 services currently provided free by their neighbors will start paying not only for emergency calls, but also for extra services such as EMS coverage at sporting events and community gatherings, which the volunteers now handle. The 82-year-old nonprofit New Jersey State First Aid Council (NJSFAC) represents more than 20,000 EMS volunteers affiliated with 325 volunteer first aid and rescue squads throughout the state. In 2010, NJSFAC volunteers spent 3 million hours answering 355,000 calls, saving New Jerseyans $225 million. Simply put, New Jersey can’t afford this ill-conceived bill. Not only will it cost residents tens of millions of dollars, it likely will cost them their EMS volunteers as well. When the “redesigned” EMS system fails, there likely will be far fewer volunteers left to answer their neighbors’ distress calls.
New Jersey State First Aid Council