TRENTON – The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senators Nicholas Sacco and Linda Greenstein aimed at stemming the EMT shortage. Specifically, the bill would provide for reciprocity of certain out-of-state EMT certifications, provided that the certification standards of the out-of-state certification exceed or are equivalent to those of New Jersey’s EMT certification.
“Local emergency services are struggling to maintain adequate staffing, especially with regard to those EMT squads that serve on a volunteer basis,” said Senator Sacco (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Though this reform alone will not solve the shortage, it will help make EMT service in New Jersey more easily achievable for people who are already certified in another state, while ensuring our state’s standards are not in any way compromised.”
Under the bill, S-461, the Commissioner of Health would be required to accept applications from those with a current out-of-state EMT certification to receive certification in New Jersey. The commissioner would approve an application upon a determination that the out-of-state certification meets or exceeds New Jersey’s certification standards, and provided that the applicant pass a criminal history background check.
“Across our state, volunteer emergency squads have shuttered, severely strained by an EMT shortage and rising costs,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Although many towns have been able to rely on contracts with other private emergency response providers, the general shortage threatens to reduce our response times and put people’s lives at risk. Providing for reciprocity for states that have equivalent standards is not a silver bullet to solve the problem, but it is a necessary part of combatting the shortage.”
The bill was passed in a 33-1 vote.