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Conaway/Fuentes/Evans/Quigley Bill Aims to Boost Delivery of Urgent Care

The full Assembly on Monday approved a measure sponsored by Committee Chairman Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., and Assembly members Angel Fuentes, Elease Evans and Joan Quigley to improve the quality and delivery of emergency medical services in New Jersey.

“Emergency medical services are among the most fundamental functions we can provide as a government,” said Conaway (D-Burlington/Camden). “We need to overhaul our system in order to improve efficiency and ensure compliance with applicable standards of pre-hospital care. This bill recognizes the important work of emergency volunteers by providing free licensing and background checks as a condition of service.”

According to a 2007 report that was issued after a comprehensive analysis was conducted at the behest of the Legislature, New Jersey’s two-tiered EMS system is in a “state of near crisis” due to the system’s financial structure, decline in volunteer membership, lack of comprehensive legislation and a weakened Advanced Life Support (ALS) system. The bill (A-2095), approved by a vote of 44-31-3, incorporates many of the recommendations from the report.

“This legislation would institute various measures that will revolutionize services, making them more efficient and effective, while streamlining the system to save taxpayer dollars,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester).

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 in overseeing emergency medical services to ensure the continuous and timely availability and dispatch of basic and advanced life support through ground and air, adult and pediatric triage, treatment and transport and emergency response capabilities.

The bill would consolidate numerous groups, task forces and advisory boards, into one governing body – the Emergency Medical Care Advisory Board (EMCAB) – to advise DHSS on pre-hospital issues, medical care and the establishment of provider standards.

Furthermore, the bill would create a number of subcommittees under EMCAB, including one charged with exploring shared services and consolidation in order to make recommendations for municipalities and counties to consolidate EMS services.

The bill would also require a minimum of one emergency medical technician (EMT) as the standard of care for every ambulance in the state.

DHSS would also be responsible for arranging advanced life support services in response to 9-1-1 calls statewide.

“This is an important measure because it provides a uniform standard for responding to emergencies and treating and transporting patients. The ultimate goal is to ensure proper care for all of our residents,” said Evans (D-Passaic/Bergen).

“This bill will enhance professionalism, transparency and coordination of the state’s EMS system, making patients the ultimate priority,” said Quigley (D-Hudson/Bergen).

The bill would also require paramedics, EMTs, and emergency medical responders to obtain a license from DHSS and undergo a criminal history background check as a condition of licensure or other authorization to practice.

The commissioner would also have the authority to revoke the license for violation of certain laws and regulations.

The bill now awaits action by the Senate.