News Details

Freeholders Hire Experts to Lead EMS Regionalization Initiative

(Woodbury, NJ) - Gloucester County Freeholder Director Stephen Sweeney, Freeholder Helene Reed, and Freeholder Joseph A. Brigandi Jr. announced today that two top experts will coordinate the regionalization of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) within the county. 

Starting July 1, Andy Lovell of Logan and Charlene Vitale of Williamstown will be dedicated to enhancing the EMS system in Gloucester County through regionalization.  Lovell will serve as Chief of Regionalized Emergency Medical Services and Vitale will serve as Deputy Chief.  These two hires will be responsible for assembling the County EMS system and its on-going management as the system grows.

"The two that have been selected we feel are the best in the EMS field to lead this effort.  Both are seasoned, energetic professionals.  Their career records not only prove that they are capable but they also have shown they will stick with a job through thick and thin.  Regionalizing EMS needs exactly that kind of work ethic," said Freeholder Director Sweeney.     "Coordinating a regional EMS system in the County is going to be a huge undertaking.  We have received positive feedback from local governments and anticipate a significant amount of towns joining in the first phase."

Sweeney stated, "We are committed to making County EMS available to any municipality that wants to join.  Having key people in place to lead the program is essential to assure quality service from the beginning and that is why the County is hiring two individuals that are knowledgeable about all of the facets of EMS and that have a proven track record of delivering a responsive ambulance service."

Andy Lovell has served as EMS Chief in Logan since 2000.  He was instrumental in successfully regionalizing EMS in Woolwich, Swedesboro, Logan and East Greenwich and has extensive experience with both the administrative and practical delivery of emergency medical services.

"Andy has clearly demonstrated in his career that he has the knowledge and skills to develop a successful program that we are looking for on a county-wide level," said Freeholder Helene M. Reed.  "He possesses the interpersonal skills for program development and management, and he sincerely cares about the patients, their loved ones, and the taxpayer.  He has already used his skills to fix several struggling EMS systems and we are looking forward to have him put his expertise to work for Gloucester County," said Reed, who is the Chair of the EMS Exploratory Committee.

Charlene Vitale has dedicated her career of thirty-plus years to EMS and has been the Chief of EMS Operations for Glassboro since 1997.  She has solid experience in managing personnel and budgetary matters and was an Instructor of the EMS Academy at Underwood from 1997 until 2006.

"For Charlene, EMS is a calling and she takes saving lives very seriously and thrives on community outreach and education," said Freeholder Joseph A. Brigandi Jr.  Brigandi, who is the Borough Administrator for the Borough of Glassboro, said that Vitale's leadership in Glassboro's EMS is recognized throughout the county. 

Brigandi said, "I am confident that these two individuals are up for the challenge and will build an exemplary system that our citizens can rely on."

The decision to dedicate staff to EMS coordination arose from recommendations of the EMS Exploratory Committee. 

Once the recommendation for an EMS Coordinator was made, the Committee developed a job description and the search began.  The position was advertised in March and May.  In all, thirteen candidates applied for the job.  Two rounds of interviews were conducted.  The Exploratory Committee began discussions of an assistant to the EMS Coordinator based on the feedback coming in from the municipal council and community presentations. 

"By July 1st, the County will begin determining staffing, equipment, and station needs for Phase One," said Freeholder Reed.  "This is where the heavy lifting is going to come in.  One person would not be able to launch this program alone and once the program is up and running we are confident it is going to grow.  Andy and Charlene have their work cut out for them, but they will have our support," Reed stated.

Several towns have already informally expressed an interest in joining regionalized EMS.  In mid-May, the County sent packages to the municipalities offering each the option to join in a regionalization effort with the first phase slated for September 30th, 2007.  Participation will be voluntary.  If the municipality wishes to join the first phase, they have been asked to provide a letter of intent within the next few weeks.  Official commitments for Phase One are expected by mid-June. 

The Exploratory Committee was formed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2006 and is comprised of representatives from the County Mayor's Association, emergency medicine professionals, EMS volunteers and providers.  The Exploratory Committee was charged with the responsibility of examining the feasibility of EMS regionalization.  The committee has been meeting regularly for close to a year.  After many months of research and discussion, the group recommended that the County hire a coordinator to take the lead in EMS regionalization. 

At the Committee's request, Tom Butts, Director of County Emergency Response, a member of the Exploratory Committee, began visiting municipal councils and other community groups explaining the concept of EMS regionalization. Many questions have arisen through the presentation process as well as through feedback from members of the exploratory committee.  Some questions have definite answers, while others will depend on the level of participation in the regional effort.  The Exploratory Committee developed a Frequently Asked Questions document which is posted at www.co.gloucester.nj.us/Government/Departments/emergencymgt/main.cfm.