To the Editor:
NJ’s volunteer EMS community has always appreciated Gov. Christie’s support, and we were especially gratified to hear him not only acknowledge the volunteers’ tireless efforts during and since Hurricane Sandy, but also his plans to help rescue the EMT Training Fund, which Gov. Jon Corzine crippled with his $4 million raid of the account in 2009.
Christie’s recent budget address, during which he cited the need for more EMS volunteers, allowed us to hope as we have not dared in a long time. Repeated, malicious attacks over the years from anti-volunteer groups – including some in the Legislature – who want to replace volunteers with a statewide paid-EMS system costing tens of millions of dollars have been disheartening and exhausting, but they have not broken us.
The governor’s plan for the EMT Training Fund – which involves no taxpayer money, but rather is financed via a 50-cent surcharge on all moving violations -- doesn't fix all of the problems, but it goes a long way toward putting the fund on better financial footing.
Gov. Christie, Department of Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd and their senior staffs have demonstrated they understand how vital EMS volunteers are to New Jersey’s residents, on a daily basis and in times of widespread crisis. We thank them for their encouragement.
Edward Jan Burdzy
Executive Director, NJ State First Aid Council