You might be surprised to learn EMTs in Jersey don’t have to go through a background check.

State Senator Joe Vitale says right now, only police and firefighters – not EMT’s – are required to undergo a background check.

But his legislation would make the background check mandatory “to make sure that those who arrive at the scene of an accident, or at someone’s home…Don’t have a criminal history and don’t put anyone in danger…The measure will weed out where there is someone who should not be in touch with or in contact with a child, or anyone, for that matter.”

He says this would ensure that individuals “who would have a criminal history, like a sexual abuse history or something else, wouldn’t be in contact with a patient or someone in an emergency where they’re really helpless…We have had occasions where there has been inappropriate contact, some molestations, some other issues with an EMT…It’s very rare- 99.9 percent of EMT’s always do the right thing…But we have to make sure we protect patients – and that the EMTs undergo the same background check as police and firefighters.”

David Knowlton, the President and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, says it doesn’t make sense why we don’t require “background checks for somebody that goes into your house when you are possibly indisposed either mentally or physically…Somebody that has access to your home – to your body – we allow EMTs to see people in various stages of undress…If you’re a helping person, it goes with the turf of trying to provide responsible care to people in a vulnerable condition.”

Vitale adds the measure would also ensure “that all first responders have a license- that they have the proper equipment – that’s inspected on a regular basis – to make sure that those who respond in an emergency are properly equipped.”