A Reader Keeping An Eye Out How The Dismantling Of EMS Is Handled By Lakewood’s Leadership

EMS sign in snow_wmI would like to first start off by saying that no, I do not work for Lakewood EMS. Judging by some comments made, it’s unlikely I would meet their strict requirements for working there. In my experience, being completely honest, paid companies seem to have a mosiac of those who are well trained with several years under their belt, and those who are new to the field. For example, I’ve been on the road for 4 short years, and have taken several courses to expand upon my knowledge, as well as worked at 4 different private agencies, and volunteered on a FAS for 3 years.. The agency I work for has several persons who have 5, 10, 15+ years of experience. I’ve seen that kind of work experience go in two different directions. There are those who have allowed it to help them become good EMTs, and those who’ve allowed it to go to their head. I’ve noticed that typically private companies will pair the ‘new guy’ with someone, or two someones in most instances (at least for a week) who has that field experience. It does typically seem to work well, but at the same time, very rarely do those transport agencies see MVAs, for example, where they’re providing care.

I’ve seen it noted that Lakewood has an industrial complex and an airfield, which Lakewood EMS has specifically trained to handle. Looking at the example of Jackson, Jackson holds Six Flags, and a few industrial agencies over on their ‘west’ side of town. QMT, I would hope, requires those who work in that town to have more specialized training with regards to MCIs, HAZMAT awareness/ops, and WMD awareness/ops. I would also sincerely hope that, in the unfortunate event that Lakewood’s leadership does decide to disband LEMS and bring in a private agency, that the private agency would do the extra training needed to prepare their EMTs with the knowledge needed to appropriately care for the people of Lakewood, in the interest of providing exceptional care.

I see it’s already been clarified that the BASE training for the certification is where everyone is equal in regards to training.

Those who are paramedics on the LEMS trucks that currently serve as the township’s EMS agency do have the benefit of being able to focus on certain things that may be considered more important, that the EMT course may not necessarily cover. I do not know for 100% if that’s the case — I have not yet attended paramedic school.

One piece that I do feel the Mayor may be slightly underexaggerating, though, is how important an intact BLS system in the area is. The BLS is more than the on-scene care and transportation. They perform a lot of the basic stuff, freeing up medic hands for the more advanced stuff (such as IV starts and intubations), and also assist the medics as they’re able to. It’s jokingly said that while the medic saves the pt, the EMT saves the medic. Not to mention, there are those times when paramedics are unavailable. Lakewood’s primary medic unit is MONOC Medic 207, with backups from 205 (out of Brick), 212/214 (out of Toms River), and 211 (out of Lakehurst). Those units also have their own areas to cover, and 207 is responsible for heading out to their areas as well, in addition to also covering Jackson and Howell. Thus, sometimes that ALS just isn’t available. The EMTs on those trucks are then required to perform the best care they can provide all the way to the hospital, and adapt to the changes in the patient’s status. Not to mention that there are several times where the patient needs advanced care, but waiting for paramedics, or going to meet up with paramedics, just doesn’t make sense (I.E. paramedics coming from Toms River with the pt on the stretcher, and KMC being 5 minutes down the road). That’s where the experience does come into play, and the EMTs on the truck are required to make decisions as to treatment and transport.

For those of you who are thinking like #3, though… you’re talking about those who are expected to be there when you need them most. One of the rules of EMS is that before we can step in to help someone, we need to assure our own well being first (considered a critical failure in practical tests if we don’t first verbalize scene safety first). Most of those working for LEMS have families to feed. They’re also working in the lowest paid portion of medical services: field emergency services. They’re responsible for triage, transport and care. We’re not talking about a sterile operating room or a clean ER here, we’re talking about out in the rain at half past midnight, crawling into a mangled car, and holding the hand of the person trapped inside until they’re ready for extrication. We’re talking about crews walking into houses which possibly may not be safe. We’re talking about those times when the roads are so bad that nobody wants to be on them, and yet those trucks still roll.

When it comes down to it, can you really put a price on public health and safety? On your own personal health and safety? Would you rather have someone who’s not stressing about how they’re gonna feed their family (and thus losing sleep), who’s managed to feed themselves right, and who’s not going on 18 hours between their other job and this one treating you, or someone who’s working 2 or 3 jobs and thus not sleeping, not eating right because they can’t afford it, and even when they’re home not sleeping well because of the stress of the bills on the table performing that treatment? They’re part of the healthcare team. It’s important to keep that in mind. These are the guys who get you first, and initiate that sometimes life-saving care necessary to preserve your existance. They do so even on holidays. Example — I’m admittedly a christian by birth, and worked both Christmas Eve and Christmas (Dec. 24th and Dec. 25th), both of which are considered holy days by my religion. For EMS, there are no holidays. It’s a 24/7/365 commitment to quality emergency care and being there when you need us most. So, at least in my opinion, those who work in the EMS field, whether they’re making 27 thousand a year, or making 75 thousand a year, are earning every penny of their salary, and for the most part are still underpaid.

I’ll be continuing to keep an eye on how this is handled by Lakewood’s leadership, and sincerely hope that they make the right decision by the township’s people, and not by the township’s purse.

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29 COMMENTS

  1. You where on track Until you got into the bit about providing food for there family’s etc that’s when you went from looking at this with a level headed approach and went into a emotional incoherent rant
    Let’s keep our eye on the ball and not get carried away with emotions not to say that we don’t care for the ones that may lose there jobs but the overall picture is the objective
    Some of your points are true but some are just irrelevant
    #1 I would hope and demand that the company that gets the contract would bring there staff up to a level of training that would be on parr with what the lakewood first aid is at (which is why I would like to see a company like MONOC get the contract for they have most of the systems and experience that you talk about in place. As well as b able to put paramedics on bls shifts so you would get the extra experience you where talking about )
    #2 I think you are mistaken in what you say about the crews that the company’s have are not experience in mva and such a large percentage of the people that I have spoken that work for the company’s do belong to volunteer squads in there home towns as well
    #3 the commitment you speak about will be just as good if not better (if someone is out to make money they will make sure there staff is committed and professional or risk loosing a lucrative contact

    Ill wait for your response till then ill be used to it

  2. Well written article but way too complicated for a lay person to follow. He is correct however regarding underestimating the importance of BLS. Ask any Hatzolah member – BLS saves plenty of lives until the medics can get there.

  3. Question: Why doesn’t Hatzalah bill for services (in many cases, recipients of services have insurance which would cover the costs of those services) instead of reaching out to the public for their funding? if services such as their can be provided others at a profit, why are they reliant upon community funds – let them provide tehir services at cost, freeing up significant community funds for other projects.

  4. The cold facts are “lakewood EMS took us to the “cleaners” for years”. I know the inside of their operation. Privatizing shoul be explored. The EMS can also bid on the contract.

  5. # 2- Monoc BLS are the same as a transport company. They will hire someone fresh out of initial cert. That by no means imply that their EMT are sub par. They have some excellent EMT’s, but their BLS still function like a transport company. Would you want the cheapest surgeon operating on a loved one? Or do you want the best surgeon? You all miss the point: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!!! Lakewood EMS pays according to their level of training and experience. An EMT working at a transport company just doesn’t have anywhere near the special training that LEMS. Baruch Hashem you never had to find out how much they know. You are basically putting a price tag on someones life.

    To the author- Excellent article. Very well written. Like you, I have no ties to LEMS and I do not live in Lakewood or Ocean County. I have 20 years in as an EMT and to even think of downgrading an EMS system to save money by going to a transport company.

    To all the readers, please have this in mind. Why do EMT’s work for a transport company where the pay is less, the work is less prestigious and your only action during your shift is shuffling patients between hospital, rehab, nursing home or rehab???? ANSWER: BECAUSE THE MUNICIPAL AND CITY EMS SYSTEMS HAVE MUCH HIGHER STANDARDS REQUIREING A LOT MORE TRAINING AND CERTIFICATIONS, EXPERIENCE AND THE ABILITY TO PASS SCENARIO, PRACTICAL AND WRITTEN TESTS.
    Some of the best doctors, lawyers, accountants and brokers are the highest paid in their respective industries. Lakewood EMS has EARNED the right to do the same.

  6. Mercer county EMS chief
    MONOC does have the experience the author of the article was talking about IE: MCI hazmat terrorism etc as a matter of fact there is no major public safety meeting that is without a representative of monoc
    Monoc has tactical als and bls units a mobile hospital bariatric unit and for heavens sake they have a chopper at there disposal so if you are looking to bring up the standards this would be a big step up
    And as far as your comments about experience of paid verses transport squads. You have no proof to what you are saying I have met transport EMT are at the top of there peers and have met a many of the paid squads guys that should not be allowed to drive an ambulance let alone treat patients (this is not a blanket statement on either group just an observation from experience )
    Thank you and awaiting your response

  7. Post #7 – exactly how are they/ did they take us to the cleaners???

    Post #2 – If monoc gets it they will not be putting medics in the rigs, they pay them more and they wont be allowed to do anything that requirs ALS services unless they are there as official Medics

  8. You get what you pay for and soon Lakewood will have a third rate EMS who will cost someone their life. But hey the people of Lakewood would have saved $10.00 off their property tax. Is $10.00 a year worth the life of one of your family members. The Mayor thinks so. That’s if you even see a savings. Has anyone from the township committee even stated how much will each house hold save if they cut out the EMS. What is the true $ figure per household.

  9. What percentage of the township budget is the EMS department? I would think that it should be the last place we cut. How about we first look and cut at the inspection department which must not be as busy as back in the building boom days.

    That said, I think the EMS personnal should agree to have their salaries be more in line with surrounding townships (they are much more currently). If they refuse this and then eventually lose their jobs, they have only themselves to blame

  10. Thank you for this article. I feel like many of you are forgetting about the people and families who are going to suffer because of this decision.

  11. I had 15 yrs. of Rescue Squad up in North Jersey which I have to confess there is no comparison to EMS but the town was a total difference from Lakewood. Our town had class.

  12. Why do EMT’s work for a transport company where the pay is less, the work is less prestigious and your only action during your shift is shuffling patients between hospital, rehab, nursing home or rehab????

    I think I’ll take a stab at that. Answer: Government jobs are hard to get. There is cronyism etc. Most government jobs even when they are advertised are predestined to a buddy or a relative.

    Also, government jobs will at times have less then competent staff, because of the difficulties involved in getting rid of incompetent, irresponsible and unnecessary staff. I.e the Lkwd. EMS last winter at the Blueclaws stadium. My point is that these jobs are hard to get because once you are in you die in these cushy jobs. While working privately, if they are not up to par they are gone. They are not worth losing the contract over.

    These arguments that you both make are classic pro-union arguments that everyone who works privately/contractors must be incompetent. Only union/government employees know what they are doing.

    How about the those 2 EMTs who worked for NYC, in the news a month ago? Who would not work (and save a life) on their lunch break. Were they inadequately trained? They weren’t private, worrying about their bills. Of course they don’t represent every government employee, but the same way you justify stereotyping private employees as entry level and inexperienced, so too can the stereotype of the lazy, rude government employee come to mind.

    The truth you know, is that these are cushy, well paying jobs that are going away, which is a terrible thing for the families involved, but this happens everyday in industry, only government feel that it is a right.

    No, I am not involved with the township, just a resident who has had previous contact with public employees, like all of us have. Again, I do not in any way mean to disparage the reputation or dedication of the Lakewood EMS in particular, I am just writing this as a general observation on the public vs. private debate

  13. How they took us to the “cleaners”? Now they want to hang us up to dry? We don’t have be dried out-we are sober, & we realize the cleaning job they did on us.

  14. Having worked for a private ambulance service and no being in a different capacity and seeing the quality of emts sent out by Quality I would not want to have to rely on them if no medic were available and i’ll bet it will be no difference with any private service. speaking from the inside of one of those companies maybe people should look at what their turn over rate is. People here get to hung up on the fact that emt’s have the same certification but they have by no means the same experience. A once a week volunteer would take a lifetime to learn and see the things Lakewoods EMT’s see on a regular basis. Don’t be fooled. This idea is like swapping a Volvo for a Yugo. Sure they are both cars but one is far safer and trusted when a accident occures.

  15. I am not an EMS provider, but I have used them.
    To #1 & #6- if Hatzalah MONOC medic volunteers come out, you already get a bill from MONOC. And if everything works the way it usually does, if your insurance doesn’t cover it or only partial, you go to collection agency. And how can a volunteer unit charge if they are volunteering? And from what I’ve read on here in the last few weeks, Hatzalah does not take in everyone as a member that applies. Is this correct? I would not let them use any public funding or allow UEZ funds to purchase ambulances just based on that, it’s discrimination.
    To #2- how long are you willing to wait for a company that gets the contract to “bring there staff up to a level of training that would be on parr with what the lakewood first aid”? Most of the towns where the contract ambulance TRANSPORT company personal are volunteers do not do extrication, the FD does. They will need the euipment in town also.
    To #4, your right BLS does save lives with the AED, they also deliver babies, and if you fall and can’t get up, they will come and pick you up and put you back in bed, no charge.
    To #7, you sound like Batman’s nemisis ‘two-face’.
    To #9, where is all this equipment located in New Jersey? Lakewood EMS has two helicopters at their disposal if they need, the NJSP Northstar and Southstar. They too can call for MONOC 1 if they are not tied up doing interhospital transfers, their bread and butter.
    To #11, I think you are on the money there. I would like to know how much I pay for this service in my taxes now also. The town should have this figure on the tips of their tongues, how much each penny is to you. If it is $!0.00, thats pretty cheap insurance copay. And I am sure that if they do privatize it, the money will be pooped away someplace else and my tax will not go down.
    To # 12, the inspection department is supposed to take in permit fees that offset the cost of running that department. That is why those fees are adjusted every year.
    I think NJ should change the way things are and allow Lakewood EMS and all towns to run paramedics on the rig and bill for that and take the monopoly away from the non-profit MONOC that sends you to collections if you don’t have insurance. Kind of like more advanced states do.

  16. Bottom line is, we’ve been getting soaked by the union for way too long. They are paid way more than their peers, and the benefits, pensions, etc… are killing us.
    Now that the township is finnally doing the one thing they can to end this insanity, the union is crying not fair, etc…
    Like the saying goes, what goes around, comes around.
    As far as quality goes, with unions, especially govt unions, it is next to impossible for the township to get rid of the bad apples, (with Blue Claws snow incident being exhibit A). Hence, I would think it is easier to have quality EMTs on a private squad then in a govt union.
    Just my 2 cents…

  17. To I’ve fallen and can’t get up
    Here let me help you up
    #1 a volunteer squad in NJ is allowed to bill they just have to be certified by the state
    the uez gives money to the EMS as well there last ambulance was paid for by the uez try getting your foot in that door let me know because anyone i spoke to regardless of their level of training can’t seem to be able to get a job there only those that know someone can get in
    #2 the Lakewood ems DOES NOT DO THE EXTRICATION so stop using that as a bargaining chip it is done by the volunteer squad if the volunteer squad can’t do it give it back to the FD like you said it’s done in most towns that way !
    #3 the new squad will have njsp choppers at their disposal; as well just like the paid squad no favoritism played there my point of suggesting to use monoc is that they have the systems all in place and getting a chopper in the air is not a series of phone calls and confirmations just a simple over the air call to the control center and you have a chopper heading your way
    #4 this hopefully is just the beginning of sorting of the waste and abuse of Lakewood taxpayer money after this we can go to the sanitation department garbage disposal seasonal work if you can hold your own then we will be glad to have you on board if you can’t then you will have to find work on someone else’s dime

    Thank you and I am awaiting your response
    ps you don’t have to use a different name every time you post we know what you stand for and let’s have a discussion about it

    pps i do agree with you on the issue of the monoc monopoly on als service I think we are one of the last states to have this system that holds back essential services from its citizens change the system and the services will get better

  18. I agree there is no easy solution but putting 30 people out of work to save a little amount of money is not going to help anyone. You will still pay top dollar for an outside agency to come in. When they realize what LEMS does they will charge the town more money as they will be tasked with several calls per shift. Having LEMS here does 2 things: Ensures the people in town have a Paid Oncall service with top of the line working equipment, and ensures the safety of the other Emergency workers in this town (Police & Fire). When they need them there is not a moments notice that is questioned. They are always 7 minutes from anywhere in town. You need to realize if you disband them you will lose that personal service and relationship you have with the members. I know many of those workers if not all of them. I, as a firefighter in this town, depend on them when we have a fire or severe accident working. It is important you know the people that are taking care of you on a Hot day during a Hot fire or when a police officer is yelling for help and reassuring them they are on the way. I wouldnt want to have to wait 10 min or more for an ambulance to come from another town or to direct them down the streets of Lakewood> these people know the streets, the people, the area.
    I wish you would just give them the respect they deserve, Find a plan that works for everyone and lets get back to business. Public Safety is everyones business but LEMS, Hatzolah, LPD, LFD have to work together to get it done sometimes…we are not super people it takes a team to get a job done. If you take away part of that team who suffers..1- The team does,and the residents they protect.

    If you really think this year is going to be tough you just wait..wait to see what happens if you have no EMS in town and you need them..This is why I support The Members of Lakewood EMS, and all Emergency Services workers in Lakewood..We need each other to stay afloat.

    That is all I am going to say.

  19. #23 Please get some facts straight- Lakewood paid EMS DOES DO EXTRICATION -Fact ( I am a EX VOL fire fighter and EX VOL first aid member in Lakewood ) The Lakewood Fire Dept was NEVER involved with extrication in the town -Its always been since 1930 a Lakewood First Aid/ then later an EMS/ or Hotzolah operation. So you cant give it back because fire dept never had it. No other Fire dept from a surrounding town is going to get involve in your extrication on a full time basis, They want nothing to do with this issue
    I know the facts and the dollars involved – The town fathers have tied the hands of the EMS by not letting them charge for all the services that they render so there’s no way they can be cost neutral to the town. Nor will the town let an outside vender charge for all services that they will need to provide if they are to be “AS SAME OR BETTER” read the RFP paperwork – Yes, some company will make money, but give it two years when they answer 5000 to 8000 calls for help and don’t collect what they thought they would and walk out of the contract- MARK MY WORDS
    I don’t gamble with the health of my loved ones- I want the best care I can get and Lakewood EMS has provided me with that on 3 occasions
    FIRE/PD/EMS are necessary services and I’m will to pay to get the best trained and qualified people to staff those positions- I know some of these EMS workers I even watched a group of them bring back to life a fellow firefighter who had a heart attack on a fire many years ago. People your in very good hands with these guys. well worth my tax $$ (I pay over $11,000)
    Lets CUT 10% from every Dept. in town before we travel this path of craziness.

  20. If anyone can please get the facts straight for us?? IF the state would allow Lakewood EMS to operate an ALS unit will that bring in more revenue thereby keeping LEMS in business. I know it will be a diffucult task getting the state to approve this but i think we ought to try it.

  21. Coming from a lakewood fireman and private company EMT. The thought of getting hurt in a fire and opening my eyes to see a quality or monoc or gem or alert EMT tending to me, scares the living daylights out of me.

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