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The League of Municipalities join the First Aid Council in supporting A-543 and S-371, companion bills which will revise the standards and requirements for volunteer and non-volunteer first aid, rescue, and ambulance squads under the New Jersey Highway Traffic Safety Act of 1987.

The League sees this legislation as advancing two important public policies. First, it will help to ensure citizens and visitors that, should the need arise anywhere in our State, they will be able to count on effective, responsible and professional care from trained and able EMTs. Second, it will do so without imposing any unnecessary burdens on the time and resources of our highly valued and highly motivated volunteers.

This legislation would require any applicant for EMT-Basic certification to meet requirements promulgated by the Commissioner of Health. Those requirements would, in turn, comply with the uniform standards promulgated by the United States Secretary of Transportation in accordance with the “U.S. Highway Safety Act of 1966,” as amended and supplemented. The bills would require that the officers of a local EMS squad notify the governing body of the host municipality of the training certifications and certification expiration dates for each member, along with proofs of inspections for all equipment.  The bills additionally specifies that no first aid, rescue, or ambulance squad may provide basic life support services unless that squad is inspected and certified or otherwise authorized to do so by the Office of Emergency Medical Services in the Department of Health, or is inspected and certified as a member in good standing of the New Jersey State First Aid Council.

It is helpful to note the requirements have some time to be phased in. The bills give the Department of Health seven months to prepare administratively for the new requirements that could address a big concern for the training schedules of these time pressured volunteers.

Further, the bills would revise the definitions of a “volunteer first aid, rescue, and ambulance squad,” and “non-volunteer first aid, rescue, and ambulance squad,” to bring the meaning of those terms into conformance with current New Jersey practice.  And the bills would, for the first time, provide a definition of “basic life support,” which is not currently defined in the New Jersey Highway Traffic Safety Act of 1987, to mean a basic level of pre-hospital care which includes patient stabilization, airway clearance, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, hemorrhage control, initial wound care and fracture stabilization and other techniques and procedures authorized by the Commissioner of Health. The bills provide further requirements regarding the staffing of vehicles transporting patients and regarding the drivers of such vehicles.

Volunteerism and local flexibility have allowed numerous New Jersey municipalities to meet the need for efficient and effective emergency medical services for decades; and, they have never been more important than they are now, in the midst of unprecedented fiscal challenges and constraints. We believe that these bills will improve the prospects for the future of local emergency response volunteerism and promote better training for both volunteer and non-volunteer first responders. We salute the sponsors for their leadership on this matter and we strongly support A-543 and S-371.

Please, ask your legislators to join as co-sponsors of this common-sense initiative.

Contact:    Jon Moran, Sr. Legislative Analyst, jmoran@njslom.org, 609-695-3481 x121.