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Vitale/Sweeney Legislation Revamping Nj’s Emergency Medical Services System Clears Senate

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem) that would revamp the emergency medical services system in New Jersey has passed the full Senate.

“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 this issue, we are going a long way towards doing just that,” said Vitale.

“The county wide EMS service we provided in Gloucester County proved that you can consolidate services while making them more efficient. In fact, the county wide EMS actually performs better in terms of response time than the national average. We can bring that exact same efficiency to a statewide level through this legislation,” said Sweeney.

The bill, A-2095/S-818, 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.

Moreover, DHSS would ensure that each municipality, starting no later than two years after the bill is signed into law, provides basic life support pre-hospital care in response to 9-1-1 calls within its boundaries. DHSS would also ensure that advanced life support pre-hospital care is available within New Jersey.

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 now heads to the Governor’s desk.

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