This site is a free service for communication, self-expression and freedom of speech. We believe this site increases the availability of information, encourages healthy debate, and makes possible new connections between people.
While reporting on topics, we will ask the questions some newspapers don't. We will print the questions that some newspapers won't.
All sources of information are confidential.


Email The Fact of The Matter at:

tfotmwestfield@gmail.com


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It Happened There, Could It or Should It Happen Here?


The Westfield Rescue Squad has provided a service to town residents for decades. 
When a volunteer is unable to respond to an emergency, the rescue squad ambulance can be seen driven by one of Westfields "Bravest", a firefighter.
The volunteers of the Westfield Rescue Squad are applauded for their dedication and continued efforts in providing the residents with a valuable service.

Click on the following link below to read what one N.J. town has considered doing in the wake of a fiscal crunch.  Whether it be dwindling volunteerism, or the need to generate revenue, towns across N.J. have already begun charging insurance companies for their services when their local volunteer rescue squad is unable to respond to an emergency call for service.

TFoTM asks:  Could it, or Should it, happen here in Westfield?

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2011/10/rescue_squads_consider_chargin.html

21 comments:

  1. There is no reason why the folks driving our ambulances should not be paid. It's great that members of our community have been so generous of their time. However, this is a service that is needed equally by ALL members of our community. Therefore, ALL members of our community should pay for this service. I don't know the details of how much it costs to run the rescue squad each year but... Let's, for a moment, assume that the raising of $1 million ($1,000,000) to be used for salaries/equipment would help the rescue squad a lot. There are 10,000 households in Westfield. If each household paid another $100 per year in taxes (not $1,000... not $10,000... just $100), which translates to just 27-cents per household per day, we'd be able to pay these folks and give them the supplies and equipment that they (and we!!!) need... While on the topic... for just a few cents more from each household per day, we can beef up our fire dept. staffing beyond the dangerous 6-person per shift levels. Many politicians keep saying towns need to "do more with less" but, as wishful as that may sound, the reality is that you generally get "less with less."

    -NR9

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is the Rescue Squad looking to bill for their services? Most or all of the Volunteer EMS agencies that bill do so when they cannot raise sufficient funds to operate on donations alone. Is that the case here? I tend to doubt it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Fact of The MatterWednesday, October 19, 2011

    You are correct. The Westfield Rescue Squad is not looking to bill for its services. However, other towns have begun to bill insurance companies for the services of paid employees (such as police and fire) responding to calls for service that involve medical emergencies and transports to local hospitals. This has allowed those towns to use the money to hire additional staff instead of raising property taxes to fund the salaries of additional employees.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad is an all-volunteer private organization. The squad provides EMS to the community of Westfield for free. The squad is not a township entity. Any money raised by the squad goes to the squad. If you wish to be billed for EMS service, you can call for a private ambulance or the Union County ambulance.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Firefighters to the rescue again. This is a long overdue problem. What action is the town doing to correct this problem? Did it fall upon deaf ears years ago?

    ReplyDelete
  6. To Anonymous 10:44pm.

    Thank you for clearing that up. I was not aware it was a private organization. Then, this brings the question up- Why? Why did a private organization have to be created to provide what's really a public service needed by and used by all? Shouldn't ambulance services be provided by government and funded by taxes paid by all members of a community?

    -NR9

    ReplyDelete
  7. why dont we get a paid Fire dept member who makes $100000.00 answer calls. After all who would want free service when you can pay for it

    ReplyDelete
  8. Paid Fire Department employees do answer calls for the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad when there is no volunteer to answer the call. There is not one firefighter below the rank of battalion chief that earns $100K a year. (If so then I'm sure I will be corected.)
    The fact that the rescue squad has not been able to repond on medical emergencies due to no volunteer being available at times, should be a clear indication that fire department manpower shortage issue can't rely on volunteers to supplement their own manpower shortage.

    ReplyDelete
  9. WFD members make around 100 thousand when you add overtime to their base salary.
    If anyone feels this passionately about the WFD taking over the rescue squad, so that the WFD can charge patients, then they should run for office on the platform of dissolving the W rescue squad & charging patients. The rescue squad has 70 or so riding members & 40 dispatchers, who are non paid volunteers, that will need to be replaced with FD paid staff. Sounds like real big savings.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Overtime in our department is because we are short men. Why don't you ask our Chief and Gildea about the overtime issue and believe me, we don't make 1oo grand even with O.T. Nobody os saying the Rescue Squad be disolved just that if we at the FD are expected to carry the load when the Rescue Squad can't, the town should seek reimbursement from an insurance company for the services of the fire department that are being taken away from the paid job to do what has been a volunteer job.

    ReplyDelete
  11. How on earth does responding to medical calls "take away from the paid job" firefighters do in town?

    Isn't providing emergency medical care part of the FD's job? Aren't all firefighters REQUIRED to be EMTs just for this purpose?

    Don't our firefighters respond to more medical calls than any other kind?

    If they don't want to do this part of their job without extra compensation then why do we have a paid fire department?

    We could have a paid Rescue Squad and a volunteer fire department since most emergencies by far are medical calls.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Fire Marshall BillThursday, October 27, 2011

    It doesn't take away from the paid job of the firefighters unless there is a fire call while the firefighters are on a medical call in place of the Rescue Squad. Providing fire protection is part of the FD's job. They are required now to be EMT's because they cover for the Rescue Squad in the Rescue Squads absence. They are responding to more and more medical calls. We have a paid fire department because that is what we have had for decades. In an affluent town it is difficult to get a volunteer to show up. They dont live close and they have daytime jobs. Other towns charge a fee to insurance companies when their firefighters respond in the place of Rescue Squad volunteers. I would much rather have a paid fire department than a paid Rescue Squad.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If the WFD is on a medical call it is because they are trained medical professionals who are sworn to help our citizens, not because they are "filling in" for the volunteer rescue squad.

    They are PROFESSIONAL EMT's as opposed to mere volunteers on the Rescue Squad.

    For all the talk of how superior a paid fire department is to a volunteer department, it seems strange that a paid professional EMT has no problem acting like a volunteer EMT is an okay substitute.

    I would rather have a professional EMT treating a life threatening medical condition than a professional firefighter putting water on my home or cutting a hole in my roof. I understand that both jobs require a skill set, but come on...

    I'd much rather have a professional giving me medical attention and a volunteer extinguishing a leaf fire, or even a house fire.

    Since the WFD can no longer use their ladder truck or provide firefighters for search and rescue I think it makes sense to take seriously the medical calls that the manpower does exist for. Much better use of resources than standing around waiting for Cranford or Plainfield to show up to help with a fire.

    And if a fire call comes in while the WFD is on a medical call it is not "taking away from their job." Most structure fires in Westfield pose little threat to anything other than property. Medical calls by their very nature involve helping people. Don't they come first?

    Are you saying the only reason that Westfield Firefighters are required to be EMT trained is to supplement the Rescue Squad?

    If this is true it makes Westfield very different from say Elizabeth or even New York City where firefighters are EMTs because a BIG part of their job is providing Emergency Medical care. Both these cities (and many more) have paid EMTs, yet firefighters are still required to be EMTs and still provide medical assistance because this is now a major component of the fire service.

    The Westfield Fire Department, like most professional departments responds to more medical calls than fires. If you eliminated the EMT aspect of being a firefighter in Westfield it would be nearly impossible to justify a paid department. Cranford, Union, etc. realize this and have firefighters as the primary medical response crew. There will almost always be more medical calls every year and less fires. Statistics going back 100 years confirm this.

    One of the big things that separates a paid from a volunteer department is the fact that paid firefighters are EMTs. By downplaying this or deferring to a volunteer rescue squad a paid fire department is seriously effecting their very need to exist in 2011.

    Do you know of any paid departments without EMTs and who don't respond to medical calls?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sounds like you are justifying getting rid of a volunteer rescue squad and keeping the paid firemen

    ReplyDelete
  15. No. Keep the Rescue Squad as a support for the paid professional EMTs on the FD. It seems that there are many who see it the other way around.

    Our firefighters are actually the only paid emergency medical responders in town and it is disturbing for them to think that answering a medical call is taking away from their "real" work of putting out the apparently large number of fires in town.

    They are firefighter/EMTs. This is their JOB! As paid professionals they do not defer to volunteer firefighters to do their job, but have no problem doing just that when it comes to the more numerous and generally more life threatening medical calls.

    If they want to get their manpower restored, this attitude is not the way to do it. They'll never win their argument based on the need to battle fires. But as the only paid professional medical responders in town they'd have a solid and verifiable argument. Medical calls will only increase as fires decrease.

    ReplyDelete
  16. All NJ certified EMTs are trained to the same exact standards, be they WFD or WVRS.
    There are about 2,500 EMS calls a year. WFD took around 200 calls last year. This year that number should be greatly reduced. The rescue squad has reached out to the surrounding agencies so that when WVRS resources are otherwise being used or not available. Rescue squads from neighboring townships will respond & vice versa. If mutual aid is not available the WFD will be dispatched. These accomodations were made because of lay offs at WFD. No patient in Westfield will be billed for an ambulance. I want to thank WFD & WVRS for all the hard work especially during the storms this year.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Quit the crying already and just be thankful that you have dedicated personnel on duty 24 hours a day to answer the call. Paid or volunteer, Heart attack or structure fire. The only questions you should ask are, is there someone on the way? And will they get here in time?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm confused. WFD firefighters are also professional EMT's, but answer fewer medical calls than our volunteer EMT's. Why are our EMT/Firefighters not the first to respond with the volunteer rescue squad members as backup?
    Does this not make the most sense? They respond first to fire calls (before the volunteers) how exactly are medical calls any different?

    If our firefighter/EMT's are complaining that when they arrive at a fire they can't "do anything" until a neighboring town arrives, why are they so reluctant to take the lead on medical calls which they can easily man?

    Move a Rescue Squad rig to the firehouse and retire the ladder truck since they claim (with the FMBA's urging)that it is "unusable" with their current manpower anyway.

    I'd rather have a professional EMT show up than have them doing nothing waiting around at a fire for another department to arrive.

    They should be doing what they can to help Westfield -- which at this time means using there skills as professional EMTs--not taking a political stance by driving a ladder truck to fires on which it can not be used.

    There are several on the council (as well as other town officials) who have supposedly suggest just this. For what we pay in taxes it makes a great deal of sense.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The rank and file of the Fire Department is not against responding to medical calls. It is the powers that be that are against it. The boots on the ground people just do what they are told. The Firefighters want an Ambulance in the Firehouse but the town won't buy one and the Rescue Squad will not give them one. The purpose of billing insurance companies is to recoup the costs of supplies, equipment, fuel, maintenance, etc. taking the burden off the taxpayer. The Rescue Squad uses their donation money for that. The town has designated the Rescue Squad as the primary agency to handle medical calls so the Fire Department cannot respond unless they are requested by the squad, the police or the dispatcher. This will not change unless they change the protocols. Ambulance mutual aid is mostly nonexistant since many towns are struggling for volunteers that is why they sent the Firefighters to become EMTs. Fire Departments in Cranford, Elizabeth, Hillside, Linden, Roselle and Union all have ambulances in the firehouse and they bill insurance companies.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Not going to happen. All equipment and ambulances in Westfield are paid for with donations. No need to charge any patients any time. WFD should wash cars, rake lawns, shovel snow or bake brownies. Think outside of the box to raise capital for more fire men or maybe stop turning away volunteers. Why hire more fire fighters when you can get volunteers.
    The second the FD gets an ambulance they will be racing to get to every patient first for the $ and make no mistake, it will not be a $30 dollar an hour fireman coming to help you but a $13 per hour EMT.
    The fire fighters became EMTs not because of a lack of volunteers but because the classification gave them a pay bump and more overtime. Before then Westfield fire fighters were WVRS members. Since then their Union made them quit to open up overtime opportunities for their union members.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Not going to happen. All equipment and ambulances in Westfield are paid for with donations. No need to charge any patients any time. WFD should wash cars, rake lawns, shovel snow or bake brownies. Think outside of the box to raise capital for more fire men or maybe stop turning away volunteers. Why hire more fire fighters when you can get volunteers.
    The second the FD gets an ambulance they will be racing to get to every patient first for the $ and make no mistake, it will not be a $30 dollar an hour fireman coming to help you but a $13 per hour EMT.
    The fire fighters became EMTs not because of a lack of volunteers but because the classification gave them a pay bump and more overtime. Before then Westfield fire fighters were WVRS members. Since then their Union made them quit to open up overtime opportunities for their union members.

    ReplyDelete