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Current state law strictly limits the amount local governments may give to volunteer ambulance squads, so additional subsidies are not the answer. Also, regionalizing Emergency Medical Service (EMS) is a more effective and cost-efficient way to address both financial and service problems facing ambulance services throughout Gloucester County.
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Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (EMS) was created by the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Commissioners to provide lifesaving emergency medical services to any municipality within the County of Gloucester requesting service. The Board of Chosen Commissioners began this regional service on September 30, 2007, after significant research, in response to lengthening response times experienced in some instances. Providing for the safety of its citizens is a high priority within the County of Gloucester.
Twenty-Two municipalities currently have joined the Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) family:
Additional County of Gloucester municipalities is welcome to request service from GCEMS.
At this time, the Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) is made up of over 250 skilled pre-hospital providers that respond from 16 stations throughout the GCEMS service area. A minimum of 13 ambulances is staffed around the clock. Additional ambulances are staffed as needed for community events, foul weather, or periods of increased call volume. Each ambulance is staffed with two certified Emergency Medical Technicians. Supervisors are also on-duty, 24 hours per day.
The performance of the regionalized system is evaluated on a call by call basis. A review of the first year of performance found that calls for service are answered with an average response time under 6 minutes. These statistics show that the regional system operates well under the 8 minute, 59 seconds "Gold Standard" response time goal adopted by the Board of Chosen Commissioners.
At this time, many non-participating municipalities do not have Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) covering emergency calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and find weekday coverage being of particular difficulty. Prior to implementing regionalized Emergency Medical Service (EMS), the County assessed non-responses of the various EMS agencies in the County. A non-response is when a squad is contacted for an emergency and the squad does not respond to the call. Whenever this occurs, the next nearest squad by mutual aid is dispatched. Sometimes several squads have to be dispatched before the emergency is responded to.
This process wastes valuable time during an emergency. Significant cost savings have been realized by the participating municipalities, saving local tax dollars. For the first year of operation, participating municipalities reported 2.6 million dollars in avoided costs.
Most important of all, a full-time, paid service that is "in station 24-7" has improved response times and provided more reliability to the system because prior to regionalization many municipalities did not have this type of around-the-clock, reliable coverage. Municipalities that have not joined Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) are encouraged to consider joining. Time counts with emergency medical services and being able to respond quickly can be a matter of life and death.
County staff is available by request to present a program overview should a town or other public organizations wish to learn more about Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS). Staff is also available for individual consultation to meet with a municipal mayor, administrator, or other interested parties representing a town. For more details, the municipality should contact the Gloucester County Administrator’s office by calling 856-853-3275. In a nutshell, below is a list of the basic steps to joining GCEMS.
Each fall, the County of Gloucester sends a letter to all non-participating municipalities offering the opportunity to join in the upcoming year. A municipality wishing to join the regionalized system must first adopt a resolution authorizing the execution of a Letter of Intent. A sample of this resolution, a sample Letter of Intent, and adoption guidelines can be obtained by contacting the County Administrator’s office. The service start date is typically in early to mid-April. Before service can begin, an inter-local agreement and any applicable leases also must be authorized by the municipality.
The Gloucester County Board of Chosen Commissioners oversees the operation of Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS), a division of the Gloucester County Department of Emergency Response. The day-to-day operation of GCEMS is directed by a GCEMS Chief with the assistance of the administrative and operational staff. GCEMS also contracts with a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician as a Medical Director who is responsible for all clinical aspects of the operation and continuous quality assurance.
Yes, we welcome these opportunities to stand-by community events in case an emergency arises and to provide public education and outreach. For further information or to schedule a Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) crew, contact GCEMS at 856-307-7120. Adequate notice is required to assure the scheduling of crews.
Spreading the word about Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and promoting a presence within the community is a responsibility and a priority for Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS). We welcome the opportunity to do wellness visits to senior centers, outreach to schools, and other public education activities such as Vial of Life.
Response areas are defined by the call volume, geography, and population of participating municipalities. In general, a response area may cover a portion of a municipality, a single municipality or it may cover several neighboring municipalities. During peak times, crews will be staged at locations that will allow them to respond quickly to 911 calls. Additional crews may be added in times of adverse weather and high call volume. In other words, ambulances will be placed in high demand areas at high demand times.
Future plans will be guided by the "Gold Standard" of medical care adopted by the Board of Chosen Commissioners.
The County has and will continue to seek to lease, for a nominal amount, existing, licensable ambulances and stations from the municipalities and current Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers that join the regional service per the terms set forth in the inter-local agreement. Going forward, the county will assume all maintenance costs for ambulances and stations leased from the municipality. The County has also purchased new ambulances to ensure there are licensable ambulances throughout the Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) service area.
Because Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is an essential, life-saving service, the goal of regionalization is to ensure that Gloucester County residents and visitors receive quality medical care and equal access to services regardless of where they are within our boundaries. Gloucester County citizens travel throughout the county and should receive equal access to quality medical care regardless of where they are located in their time of need. For this reason, as well as the fact that mutual aid will be provided to those towns that do not join, broad-based support is a fair mechanism for supporting a regionalized EMS system. The County relies on several funding and capital sources:
The County seeks insurance reimbursement wherever possible to offset operating costs which in turn saves the taxpayer money. The County will not make a profit from insurance payments for Emergency Medical Services. Insurance payments support the operating costs of the Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS); however, insurance payments do not cover all costs. The monies collected from insurance payments will be considered full payment and no outstanding costs will be billed to county residents. GCEMS will provide services to patients regardless of whether or not the individual has health insurance.
We will seek full payment from non-residents.
Yes, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) regionalization will increase County expenditures, but these costs are expected to be significantly offset by revenue from insurance billing. EMS regionalization will deliver this life-saving, essential service in a more efficient and effective way. Regionalization will also shift the financial burden from municipal budgets to the County, sharing the financial cost of this essential regional service in a more equitable way. In 2008, the ten municipalities that joined in September of 2007 reported budgetary savings of $2,649,259 as a result of the Board of Chosen Commissioners’ decision to begin providing EMS service on a regionalized basis.
Yes, volunteers are welcome and encouraged to be a part of Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) with one caveat - in accordance with the U.S. Department of Labor rules, any employee of Gloucester County will not be allowed to volunteer for GCEMS as well. Volunteer opportunities will include supplementing shift coverage and extra assignments such as athletic events and task force participation. GCEMS will provide for any emergency medical service-related training needs of volunteers.
The county will give preference to qualified Emergency Medical Technician (EMTs), both career and volunteers, subject to the listed requirements.
Candidates for county employees should be aware that County job positions are subject to a civil service application and testing. Candidates will also be required to demonstrate basic Emergency Medical Services (EMS) proficiency through testing. For those who wish to familiarize themselves with Civil Service procedures, visit the state website. One municipality in Gloucester County have career EMTs that have tested with Civil Service; all others would need to be tested.
EMTs employed by a municipality may be able to move to County employment through an inter-local transfer. Municipal leadership is encouraged to contact Gloucester County Human Resources at 856-853-3261 to learn more about how regionalization could affect their employees. Once employed, the County will seek to station employees in response areas with which they are most familiar; however, operational needs may prevail.
Yes, Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) has, and will continue to, provide services at working fires.
Spreading the word about Emergency Medical Services and promoting a presence within the community will be a responsibility and priority of Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS). As time allows, GCEMS will offer these kinds of community services.
Yes, Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) will support task force activities and assignments at the County and State levels. The Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) task forces (North and South) were recognized as one of the best in the State after the September 11th tragedy. Regionalizing GCEMS will provide opportunities to enhance this program.
Gloucester County is not considering regionalizing fire service at this time. Gloucester County has prioritized Emergency Medical Service (EMS) because this system has shown an immediate need for improvement.
As with any public safety emergency, dial 911 from any telephone and follow the instructions given to you by the trained Public Safety Telecommunicator.
The medical condition of the patient will often dictate the hospital that they are transported to. Specific conditions such as a traumatic injury may require treatment and transportation to specialized hospitals such as a trauma center. As much as possible, Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) will attempt to honor our patients’ requests when selecting the destination hospital.
Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) utilizes a dynamic deployment plan to position ambulances at strategic locations to better respond to emergencies. Ambulances are scheduled and positioned based on historical call data and current call volume. During traditionally busier times of the day, more ambulances are on duty. This process is similar to how law enforcement schedules and positions its officers. From time-to-time ambulances are re-positioned in an effort to provide better response times to the entire GCEMS coverage area.
Occasionally, you may see a GCEMS ambulance staged at a street corner or adjacent to a highway awaiting the next call.
In order to assure that we are always available to the residents of Gloucester County when they are experiencing an emergency, Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) only provides emergency treatment and transportation. Non-emergency transports are handled by private ambulance services. These services provide Emergency Medical Technician’s (EMTs) as necessary for all routine, non-emergency transports. Some also have special wheelchair services for those people that may need those services.
You can find these in the yellow pages of the phone book. If you simply need assistance getting your family member into your car, or back into your home, give us a call at the non-emergency number 856-589-0911 and we will gladly provide that assistance at any hour of the day or night.
Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) crews are on-duty around the clock and can provide assistance at any time for this type of situation. Simply dial 911 and explain to the emergency dispatcher the situation. We will gladly send a GCEMS crew over to provide immediate help.
The first GCEMS response was on September 30th, 2007. Continuous service has been provided since that date.
Any time that you have, or believe that you are having any type of medical emergency. This can be as major as a heart attack or as simple as a broken bone. If you are ever in doubt, call 911.
Each Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) ambulance is staffed with 2 New Jersey certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). Each EMT must complete a 140 hour training course before they are eligible to take the State of New Jersey administered test. To become a certified EMT, the test must be completed successfully. Additionally, all EMTs must complete continuing education requirements yearly. GCEMS EMTs also receive monthly training to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.
In order to minimize the impact on the County of Gloucester budget, Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) will seek reimbursement from your insurance carrier on your behalf.
Despite a New Jersey statute that prohibits this practice, some insurance carriers send insurance payments for services rendered directly to the patient or the insured. In these cases, you should forward the payment to Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) to reimburse the taxpayers of Gloucester County for the services provided to you.
No. When a call comes in, it is carefully triaged by a certified Emergency Medical Dispatcher who utilized a computer-based program to determine the most appropriate response for each call. Some calls are not immediately life-threatening and therefore they do not require a lights and sirens response. Many patients are transported to the hospital without the use of lights and sirens for the same reason. This practice greatly minimizes the risk for the patient, the GCEMS staff members, and the public.
Diversion is a protocol for deciding when a hospital is not able to accept new patients in the emergency room from arriving ambulances. When this occurs the ambulance is diverted to a hospital that is able to receive patients in their emergency room. Typically a hospital will go on "Diversion" when there is an insufficient number of beds in the regular hospital necessary for admission by emergency room patients.
In theory, the protocol attempts to prevent the shortage of beds for emergency room patients after they have been treated and need admission to regular hospital care. Gloucester County Emergency Medical Service (GCEMS) will attempt to honor all hospital diversions as it is not in our patient’s best interest to be transported to a hospital experiencing a diversion. GCEMS has no ability to change a hospital’s diversion status.
Applications for interns and career positions are available on the Human Resources page. If you have any questions, give us a call at the GCEMS office at 856-307-7120.