Bill Aimed At Addressing New Jersey’s EMT Shortage Advances

The Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senators Linda Greenstein and Raj Mukherji that would expand eligibility for reimbursement from the state’s “Emergency Medical Technician Training Fund” for the training of new EMTs.

“Across our state, volunteer emergency squads have shuttered, severely strained by an EMT shortage as well as rising costs,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Although contracts with private emergency response providers have filled in some of the gaps, the general shortage continues to threaten to reduce our response times and put people’s lives at risk. By expanding eligibility for reimbursement to include squads that charge for their services, it will enable more people to train and attain EMT certification, and thus reduce the wider shortage.”

The bill, S-2435, would expand eligibility for reimbursement to provide that agencies, organizations, or entities may be eligible for reimbursement from the “Emergency Medical Technician Training Fund” regardless of whether the organization, agency, or entity charges for the provision of basic life support services.

Under current law, eligibility for reimbursement is dependent upon the relevant organization or squad not charging for the provision of their services. Many local volunteer squads struggle to afford the costs of their services without charging, but at the same time would be unable to pay for the training of new EMTs without state support. This situation contributes to the trend of volunteer squads shutting down entirely, with towns instead entering into contracts with private emergency response providers.

“Local emergency services are struggling to maintain adequate staffing and absorb rising costs. The current requirements for reimbursement put them into a situation where they are often left with no choice but to shut down, or severely scale back their services,” said Senator Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This bill will help local squads maintain financial stability while continuing to train new EMTs, in addition to helping to address the broader shortage facing emergency response providers.

The bill was advanced in a unanimous vote.

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