Times are tough financially for some people and it could be why volunteerism is down across the county for EMS Services as cited by Manchester Township who will soon be rolling out a paid EMS program.

Manchester Township Mayor Ken Palmer said that on average, Manchester has eight hundred to a thousand first aid calls per month and due to the decline in membership, "our volunteer First Aid Squads can no longer meet the high demand."

"Unfortunately, in recent months, despite their best efforts, our volunteers coverage has been sporadic," Palmer continued in a statement.

He said that in January alone, there were ten consecutive days with only a few calls answered by Manchester First Aid Squad and five consecutive days where they did not have a crew at all.

"When a call for first aid is made, the call goes to the County dispatchers and the protocol is to dispatch our volunteer first aid squads first," Palmer said. "If the volunteer squads are not able to respond, the County dispatchers are tasked to contact the back-up service provider, Quality Medical Transport. Obviously, the multiple calls delay the response time, which delays the patient’s arrival to the hospital."

Mayor Palmer and the Manchester Township Council have now de-authorized the Manchester First Aid Squad from providing first aid services in Manchester Township.

"It was our hope to have a transition period when the Township’s paid EMS service was on-line. Unfortunately, we could not wait," Palmer said. "We needed to take this action to ensure our residents on the East side of town are afforded the fastest and most efficient response times."

Palmer said that this decision also alleviates Manchester First Aid from the obligation to provide coverage, as the majority of their members are from out of town and travel to Manchester.

Until the Township paid EMS service is operational, Quality Medical Transport will be the primary responding service.

To ensure coverage, Manchester Police Chief Lisa Parker has entered into a mutual aid agreement with Toms River to provide back-up service.

Whiting First Aid will continue to provide coverage on the West side of town. In the event, they are not able to cover a call, Quality Medical Transport will cover the call.

Palmer said that they anticipate Manchester Township’s paid EMS service to be operational March 1, 2020.

“Manchester needs 24/7 coverage with multiple ambulances ready to respond with two certified EMT’s on the rigs, our residents deserve it," Chief Parker said.

There were nearly 70 candidates who participated in Manchester's Emergency Medical Services Division testing earlier this month as they prepared to become EMT's.

The testing consisted of a written portion, practical portion and physical portion.

The highest scoring applicants advanced to the interview process which was completed, for the most part, last week.

Next up is the process of completing background checks for potential hires.

Once the background process is completed, new hires will undergo a short training period on the Township’s required practices and protocols.

"It is our intent to utilize the township-owned building, previously occupied by the Manchester First Aid Squad," Palmer said. "This property has always been deed-restricted requiring the property to be used for township emergency services. Utilizing this building will save the taxpayers thousands of dollars in building costs and more importantly ensure a smooth transition for the new EMS service."

Palmer said that volunteers are encouraged to apply for the paid positions or continue volunteering as a Township Auxiliary EMT.

This township operated EMS Division will eventually include paid Firefighters who will also be dually-certified as EMTs.

They will supplement the dayshift volunteers’ fire calls along with answering first aid calls for service.

“We will have a fully functional emergency response team with Police, Fire and EMTs all working together for the betterment of the community," Chief Parker said.

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