To the Editor:
I want to thank our volunteer EMS providers, who are vital to the communities they serve, for all they do for the residents of New Jersey.
In addition to facing some of the same issues as paid services, New Jersey’s volunteer EMS squads address the challenges of recruiting and retaining members, raising funds, and maintaining training and certifications. They do all this in the face of additional, cumbersome, time-consuming, unproven requirements mandated without regard to how they will adversely impact both volunteer and paid EMS.
Despite these hurdles, EMS volunteers still answer hundreds of thousands of calls annually, provide training for residents and stand-by services at public events. As they have for decades, these volunteers also function as an army of trained responders summoned during times of crisis. Undeniably, without these volunteers, New Jersey could not adequately manage another Super Storm Sandy or blizzard or 9/11.
With our growing elderly population and increasing terrorism threat, EMS volunteers have never been more relevant or essential. The 86-year-old nonprofit New Jersey State First Aid Council -- now “doing business” as the EMS Council of New Jersey -- represents almost 20,000 volunteers affiliated with nearly 300 squads. That’s more than 80 percent of New Jersey’s volunteer squads. Hurray for EMS volunteers!
Meyer is president of the EMS Council of New Jersey.