To garner support for disastrous ‘redesign’ bill
SAYREVILLE, NJ – Supporters of the so-called emergency medical services (EMS) “redesign” bill are using scare tactics and disseminating false information about volunteer responders to garner support for their flawed, ridiculously expensive legislation.
Advocates for bill A-2095/S-818, which the New Jersey Senate passed to Governor Christie’s desk Dec. 15 by the slimmest of margins, are using automated phone messages, or “Robo-calls,” as a smear campaign against volunteers and to encourage residents to support the bill, according to Barbara Aras, president of the New Jersey State First Aid Council (NJSFAC).
The 82-year-old nonprofit NJSFAC represents more than 20,000 EMS volunteers affiliated with 325 volunteer first aid and rescue squads throughout the state. In 2010, NJSFAC volunteers spent 3 million hours answering 355,000 calls, saving New Jerseyans $225 million.
The phone messages – many targeting senior citizens – use scare tactics by implying EMS volunteers are poorly trained and provide sub-par care, and falsely claim that the volunteers oppose criminal background checks, Aras said.
“In fact, state regulations require volunteer and paid responders to undergo the same training, certification and continuing education process,” Aras said. “EMS volunteers also support background checks for all responders, as long as volunteers are not forced to foot the bill for the background checks.
“Our volunteers each already donate hundreds of hours annually, and the state’s fiscal crisis already forces many people to pay hundreds of dollars of their own money to maintain the required certifications – all for the privilege of voluntarily serving their communities,” she added.
“These ‘Robo-calls’ are grossly misleading, negative attacks on our volunteers’ integrity, meant to draw attention away from the fact that the greedy, paid-organization bosses want to line their pockets with public funds,” Aras said. “In addition, the calls are illegal because the message never identifies the caller or the organization represented.
“The legislation’s supporters view this as a jobs bill, which would increase bureaucracy, red tape, unfunded mandates and costs for volunteers and municipalities, making it even more difficult for volunteers to continue serving their communities,” she said. “Forcing out the volunteers and local responders would pave the way for county-based EMS monopolies that would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and could compromise patient care and result in people waiting longer for trained EMS personnel to arrive.”
Aras encouraged residents to beware of the calls, which begin by asking the person receiving the call to press a number on their phone dial pads to indicate support for the ‘EMS bill’ without explaining what the bill entails.
“These dirty tactics are meant to distract residents from this ill-conceived bill’s many cons,” Aras said. “This bill is a disaster in the making for New Jersey’s EMS, and if signed into law, the damage it would cause would be profound and irreversible.
“New Jerseyans can’t afford this outrageous bill,” she said. “Not only will it cost residents tens of millions of dollars, it likely will cost them their EMS volunteers as well.”
When the “redesigned” EMS system fails, there likely will be far fewer volunteers left to answer their neighbors’ distress calls,” Aras said.
Aras encouraged all New Jersey residents to support their EMS volunteers by contacting Governor Christie and urging him to veto the bill.