Ocean County To Launch Its Own EMS Squad Amid Disastrous Response Times

As Ocean County experiences a severe dearth of EMTs and far too long emergency response times, the county itself is preparing to launch its own regional ambulance service to provide backup for existing squads, the Asbury Park Press reported.

Commissioner Gary Quinn told the outlet that he hopes to have three ambulances already in service by the end of the year – one in Berkeley, one in Lacey, and another in southern Ocean County. He acknowledged that the cost would be prohibitive – a single ambulance can cost up to $350,000, plus equipment and personnel costs – but noted that response times have been down, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, with many EMS personnel being older and the number of new EMTs being way down.

“The younger population we can’t get to volunteer like we used to,” he told the APP.

Quinn also noted that Lakewood, Jackson, and parts of Toms River are currently well-served by Hatzolah of Central Jersey. However, there have been persistent concerns about first aid response times in certain areas, including Toms River’s Ortley Beach section.

The dissolution of the Dover-Brick and Ortley Beach first aid squads put added strain on squads in Toms River and nearby towns. Toms River relies on a combination of paid EMS personnel and volunteers to handle its calls, and Lavallette still has a volunteer squad. Meanwhile, other neighboring areas depend on the TriBoro First Aid Squad, which has both volunteers and paid staff.

While Toms River has stationed an ambulance in Ortley during the summer months, residents are advocating for a 24/7 presence.

Councilman Kevin M. Geoghegan, who is also a long-time member of the Silverton First Aid Squad, has expressed support for the county’s regional ambulance service plans, calling it a welcome step, albeit overdue.

“I think it’s fantastic, and about 20 to 25 years too late,” Geoghegan said of the plan. “EMS is a disaster from Cape May to Paramus, Trenton to Sea Girt. It’s not just Toms River, not just Ocean County, it’s all over.”

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