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Gloucester County Measures Success of New EMS System First month shows response times better than ‘National Gold Standard’

(Clayton, NJ) – After 30 days in operation, the Gloucester County Emergency Medical Services (GCEMS) has achieved an average response time that is better than the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Service average target response time at 8 minutes and 59 seconds, 90 % of the time. 

“In working with our municipalities to offer Emergency Medical Services, the Freeholders made a commitment to provide an effective, reliable, and efficient ambulance service as an alternative to towns that were struggling to answer ambulance calls,” said Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney.

“This one-month report shows that Gloucester County EMS’s average response time is 6 minutes, 23 seconds,” said Sweeney. The average number was based on calls up until Sunday, October 28th midnight.

Freeholder Director Sweeney explained that when the county set out to regionalize Emergency Medical Services, the goal was based on the “Gold Standard” recommended by the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Service which sets the bar for an average target response time at 8 minutes and 59 seconds, 90 % of the time. 

Director Sweeney said, “The county regionalized EMS system is up and running efficiently. In the first month, the county regionalized system is exceeding he expectations of the ‘Gold Standard’ and that is a tribute to the new system in place and all of the EMS professionals we have working around the clock.”

Phase One of EMS regionalization was launched on September 30th, 2007 at 5 AM, in ten municipalities: Clayton, East Greenwich, Glassboro, Logan, Mantua, Paulsboro, Pitman, Swedesboro, West Deptford, and Woolwich. During the month that has passed since the official launch date, GCEMS responded to 803 calls within the ten-municipality service area. In addition, the county ambulance service covered 47 mutual aid responses in municipalities not currently part of the county EMS system. 

“Regionalized EMS is about saving lives,” said Freeholder Helene M. Reed liaison to the Department of Emergency Response. “When people call 911 for an ambulance in the ten towns we are operating in, an ambulance is going to show up and we will always strive to meet the national Gold Standard in response time,” said Reed.

The Gloucester County EMS system currently has 9 stations in operation and 18 ambulances in its fleet. The county hired 140 full and part-time under a uniform set of policies and procedures, standardized supplies and equipment of the fleet, and is steadily working on training opportunities and clinical guidelines. Most importantly, regionalization has optimized cross-municipal responses to calls for ambulance services. 

“The county program has filled the void in staffing and enhanced the infrastructure for many of its participating towns,” said Reed. The county has provided its EMS system with the staffing it needs for timely responses and the staff has been given the equipment it needs to do the job right.”

Freeholder Joseph A. Brigand, Jr. said that in addition to making a difference on a county level, Regionalized EMS is making and impact on a municipal level. 

“Gloucester County has been a pioneer with regards to regionalization, but we are proving that when done correctly it works to provide seamless services to our citizens and reduce a burden on our local governments,” said Brigandi. “I realize when we started out with this concept there were people who were skeptical, however it was well-studied and there was a significant communication with emergency response personnel and mayors that showed a regionalized EMS system was the way to go,” said Brigandi. 

“I think we are all pleased with the initial results at both a county level and municipal level,” Brigandi said.

All the ambulances in the fleet were provided by participating municipalities. Each ambulance received a thorough inspection and any maintenance issues have been rectified. Ambulance equipment has been tested to ensure that all is in good working order. Some items, such as the defibrillators, were standardized. The fleet is fully stocked with medical supplies and back-up supplies are on hand.

“I have practiced emergency medicine for many years, and I am extremely pleased with the performance on the new county EMS system. Our EMTs are up to the challenge. I have reviewed the medical charts and lives have been saved. Many more Gloucester County residents will benefit from the improvements Gloucester County EMS will bring to the emergency medical system,” said Dr. Heresniak, Gloucester County EMS Medical Director.