TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senate President Steve Sweeney that would revamp the emergency medical services system in New Jersey was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee yesterday.
“Efficient and prompt emergency and pre-hospital care is critical to saving New Jerseyans’ lives when they are in crisis,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “Placing one statewide agency in charge of emergency services is the first step to improving this care. This legislation will directly impact response times, availability of services and quality of care for residents throughout the Garden State.”
“By consolidating EMS services in Gloucester County, we dramatically decreased response times to lower than the national average, which equates to saving people’s lives, while reducing the overall costs of emergency services and streamlining bureaucracy. We can bring this same common-sense approach and efficiency to all communities in New Jersey by having one agency oversee emergency services throughout the state,” said Senate President Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem.
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 require paramedics, EMTs and emergency responders to be licensed by DHSS and 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 8-4-1. It now heads to the Senate floor.