Legislation To Revamp NJ’s Emergency Medical Services System Clears Committee

Sen. Joseph Vitale

TRENTON – Legislation that would revamp the emergency medical services system in New Jersey was cleared out of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Thursday.

“We need to vastly reexamine the manner in which we provide emergency services throughout New Jersey. Having one statewide agency oversee this issue will go a long way towards improving response time, availability of services and the kinds of services that are provided. It is a move whose time has come,” said state Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex).

“Eliminating redundancies in the way we perform emergency services can dramatically decrease the amount of time it takes personnel to get to the scene,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem). “In Gloucester County, we proved that county-wide EMS works and actually performs better in terms of response time than the national average. There is no reason we can’t bring that same kind of efficient performance to a statewide level.”

The bill, S-818, would require that, under the direction of the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, the Office of Emergency Medical Services in the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) would serve as the lead state agency for oversight of emergency medical services delivery in New Jersey. DHSS would also ensure the continuous and timely statewide availability and dispatch of basic life support and advanced life support to all New Jersey residents through ground and air, adult and pediatric triage, treatment and transport, and emergency response capability.

Moreover, DHSS would ensure that each municipality, starting no later than two years after the bill is signed into law, provides basic life support pre-hospital care in response to 9-1-1 calls within its boundaries. DHSS would also ensure that advanced life support pre-hospital care is available within New Jersey.

The bill would also require paramedics, EMTs, and emergency medical responders to undergo a criminal history record background check as a condition of licensure. Additionally, DHSS would be required to make a current list of licensed paramedics and EMTs available to the public on its Internet website.

The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

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