Exploratory Committee For Regionalization of EMS Services Being Created
(Woodbury, NJ) – Gloucester County will create an Exploratory Committee to study the feasibility of a regionalized Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system within the county.
“The Freeholders have heard from many mayors, council members and emergency workers about the need for a regionalized EMS system within the county,” said Freeholder Director Sweeney. “We are responding to their concerns by creating an exploratory committee to find the right solution to this important public safety issue.”
“We have done some preliminary research on this and we have learned that a regionalized approach to EMS may improve response times, and reduce the burden on individual squads,” Sweeney said. “Right now we have towns with volunteer EMT’s, paid EMT’s, and private agencies and many of them are under tremendous response pressure due to our population growth. We want to explore the concept of a regionalized system that would help further our EMS by advancing training and equipment and around-the clock coverage, and we are creating this committee to receive the proper guidance to see if this is feasible,” said the Director.
“The EMS squads of our county provide vital, life saving services to our community and they do an outstanding job. We need every aspect of their expertise, as well as local governments’, because they are both dealing with the issues of costs and coverage on a daily basis,” noted Sweeney.
“Just recently Logan, Swedesboro and Woolwich have regionalized their EMS in order to enhance coverage and improve response times. In other parts of the county, squads are covering for each other on a regular basis through mutual aid, so there is a definitely a need to look into a carefully worked-out shared services approach because it is already happening in some forms anyway,” Sweeney said.
County creates committee for Exploratory of regionalizing EMS Services
June 27, 2006
Freeholder Helene Reed, liaison to the Department of Emergency Response, said that Emergency Medical Services are provided on two levels: Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS). BLS services are provided by EMT’s and ALS services are provided by Paramedics. ALS services are dispatched on a criteria basis and BLS services provide all transportation services to the area hospitals regardless of whether ALS services have been deployed.
For BLS services, Gloucester County has 29 EMS squads within its boundaries, some of which operate with volunteers, some with paid staff and some with a combination of both. Of these, three are privately owned squads, and another two, Rowan and Valero, serve their own population. ALS services in the county are run through the medic Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) program at Underwood Memorial Hospital and have and have Paramedics at various locations in the county.
“The county’s first priority in this exploration is to look for optimum cross-municipal -boarder responses around the clock,” said Freeholder Reed. “If regionalization of EMS is something we can pursue here, it can be an opportunity for the county to help meet the staffing, training and equipment needs of the EMS squads, and take that financial burden off of the municipalities. We would be looking to enhance the valued commitment our EMT's have already made to our community,” Reed said.
Freeholder Reed said that letters to the Mobile Intensive Care Unit, Gloucester County Ambulance and Rescue Association, Career Squads, Mayor’s Association, and the Business Administrator’s Association would be sent to request their representation on the Exploratory Committee for Regionalization of EMS. In addition to a member from each of those mentioned, the county’s Director of Emergency Response, and Freeholder Reed, as freeholder liaison, would also be on the committee.
The exploratory committee will be charged with studying the current EMS structure and looking at how regionalization can enhance what is already in place. There are many details that need to be considered to ensure that regionalization is the best answer to improving our public safety services.