There's a battle brewing between Silverton EMS and Toms River Township after Mayor Tom Kelaher sent a letter to residents in the Silverton section telling them that their first aid squad will change in 2019.

Toms River is replacing Silverton EMS with township ambulances starting next year.

Toms River officials cite a change in policy by Silverton EMS where they're not in a 50/50 services agreement with the township.

In a letter dated November 30, 2018 obtained by WOBM News the town cites financial reasons as to why the change is being made.

"Historically, all of the volunteer squads in the township were permitted to bill the patients' insurance carriers who were transported and admitted to an area hospital. If the patient had no insurance, no bill was submitted. The purpose of establishing the Community Service Officer Program in 2001 was to provide a structured system for EMS response throughout Toms River Township to work with and supplement the volunteer first aid squads. Today, CSOs answer 80% of the approximately 12,000 EMS calls in town and surrounding communities.

As of now, a change of policy by the leadership of the Silverton First Aid Squad has created a serious problem for the township. The money paid to the squads was split evenly with the township in return for the township's expenditure for costs and operations of the squads such as fuel, maintenance and supplies as well as providing CSO back up when first aid squads are not available. This 50/50 agreement is in effect with all of the first aid squads in Toms River, except Silverton.

Recently, the leadership of the Silverton First Aid Squad has decided to become independent of the township. The squad established a 501c3 corporate status, obtained their own state license, and hired their own medical director. The squad has also refused to sign any agreement with the township to provide services.

Although the squad continues to claim it is an all-volunteer squad, the squad has lost its volunteer status by virtue of the fact that they bill for services and they pay their members. This situation has placed the township in an untenable position. The township is now liable in any litigation for allowing a municipal service without complying with state bidding laws.

As a result, the township is immediately replacing the Silverton First Aid Squad with township ambulances operated by township employees. They will provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. By resolution dated November 27, 2018, the township council authorized me to take administrative action to replace the Silverton First Aid Squad with Toms River Community Service Officers. This will take effect on January 1, 2019.

Providing for the safety of our citizens is a high priority in Toms River. The township wants to assure all Silverton residents that they will continue to have safe and reliable EMS service."

Silverton EMS has been servicing residents since 1964.

Kevin Geoghegan, the president of the Silverton First Aid Squad who is a former Councilman in Toms River, tells WOBM News they plan to fight the policy.

He released an initial statement on Facebook on Monday night.

Stay with WOBM News as this story develops.

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