New NJ EMS oversight may weigh heavily on volunteer squads
Governor considering new bill which increases oversight of EMT's, medics; opponents say new requirements will shut the doors of many of state's volunteer EMS units
By Andrew Kitchenmann
TRENTON, N.J. — For the second time since taking office, Gov Chris Christie may have a chance to sign a bill that increases state oversight of emergency medical technicians and paramedics. The measure (A-2463), requires that ambulance workers be licensed by the state and undergo criminal background checks.
The legislation comes at a time when the state’s longtime reliance on volunteer ambulance squads is under threat from several quarters, including increased regulation, tougher training requirements, and a general decline in volunteerism. “EMS is in crisis in New Jersey,” said Mary Daley, president of the state EMS union. — the Professional Emergency Medical Services Association. “A lot of the volunteers are falling by the wayside, a lot of it is going commercial and paid.”
Supporters of the bill argue it makes much-needed changes, adding that the current state of affairs — in which volunteer squads don’t even have to register with the state — must end. They also say the state must take action now to ensure that local departments maintain necessary standards.