UNION COUNTY – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has approved the permanent establishment of Union County’s first countywide emergency medical service. The new service will provide local first responders with an additional mutual aid ambulance. Union County initiated the program on a pilot basis last year in response to requests from local officials, and it has proven to be an overwhelming success.
“The need for a countywide mutual aid EMS was clear, and it is very gratifying to see how quickly local emergency responders have put the new initiative into action,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella.
The pilot program was developed based on discussions with representatives from the 21 municipalities in Union County, who expressed the need for additional emergency medical resources to answer growing demands.
Budget constraints, hospital emergency room closings and changes in medical practices are some of the factors leading to increasing pressures on local emergency response.
“The Rahway Emergency Squad donated two ambulances to the service when the pilot phase began, which kept startup expenses to a minimum,” Mirabella noted. “Insurance reimbursements are covering the full cost of the service including personnel and operating costs.”
The countywide EMS pilot program began in June 2011. On its first day of operation it answered four requests for service, hitting the anticipated mark of up to five calls daily on average. In the following 11 months, the service totaled more than 975 calls.
“The new EMS mutual aid service is another good example of how Union County resources can help local governments enhance their emergency response capabilities while under a tight budget,” said Andrew Moran, Director of the Union County Department of Public Safety. “The addition of this service has made a significant difference in providing our residents with access to emergency medical services.”
All but one of the 21 municipalities in Union County used the service while the pilot program was under way.
“The Freeholder Board decided to make the EMS backup a permanent service because the pilot demonstrated that it is a valuable part of the mutual aid toolkit,” said Mirabella. “It can be called into play when local officials are handling multiple calls at once, or calls involving multiple victims, to ensure that emergency services can be delivered as quickly as possible.”
The new service can also be called upon as backup when local ambulances are out of commission for unexpected maintenance or repairs, and it can serve as a standby precaution at public events or fires.