Legislation To Revamp NJ’s Emergency Medical Services System Advances

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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senate President Steve Sweeney that would revamp the emergency medical services system in New Jersey passed the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Monday.

“When we are dealing with something as critical as emergency services, we have to ensure that they are being provided in the most efficient manner possible. By placing one statewide agency in charge of emergency services, we will be able to directly impact life-saving issues such as response time, availability of services and the kinds of services that are provided,” said Vitale, D-Middlesex, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee.

“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 Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem. “After consolidating emergency services in Gloucester County and creating a uniform system of oversight, we now have response times that are lower than the national average. By having DHSS oversee emergency care statewide, we can bring similar efficiency to all communities in New Jersey.”

The bill, S-1650, 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.

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 was approved by the Committee with a vote of 6-1-3. It now heads the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further review.

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