Officials Want SouthSTAR Emergency Helicopter Transport Restored for South Jersey

medevac state police 4-11-14Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove are calling for the reinstatement of SouthSTAR, the unit of the Jersey Emergency Medical Shock Trauma Air Rescue providing emergency transport to southern New Jersey for trauma patients through the use of medically-equipped helicopters.

Connors, Rumpf and Gove sent the following letter to New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett regarding SouthSTAR and the delegation’s deepening concern that South Jersey residents are being treated disparately as compared to North Jersey residents:

Dear Commissioner Bennett:

This outreach is to emphasize our Delegation’s deepening concerns that the unit of the Jersey Emergency Medical Shock Trauma Air Rescue assigned to South Jersey, SouthSTAR, has ceased providing emergency transport for trauma patients through the use of medically-equipped helicopters.

Despite the unforeseen circumstances that led to the discontinuation of SouthSTAR services, there is an obvious and urgent need to take corrective action in the interest of public safety for those affected. While we recognize that the use of private helicopter service by medical facilities has increased over the past several years, the present situation continues to raise significant alarm for a number of our constituents fearful that lifesaving medical services will be unavailable to them.

Adding to the level of discontentment among South Jersey residents is that the NorthSTAR service remains operational to service North Jersey residents. Justifiably, our constituents take issue with not only the loss of service, but by the continuance of a state-imposed surcharge on motor vehicle registrations that is dedicated to this service to which they are no longer entitled to simply due to living in the southern part of the state.

There is a compelling argument that the SouthSTAR service is more critically needed in South Jersey given South Jersey’s more rural geography. Helicopter transport may be in greater demand for persons requiring emergency medical care on account of the greater distances to medical facilities as compared to the northern part of the state which is more urbanized.

To the extent that our constituency is being underserved and treated disparately, we are, accordingly, calling on the state to reinstate the SouthSTAR service and thereby filling the existing gap in emergency medical helicopter services for South Jersey residents. Reinstating this service would be consistent with the Department’s commitment to ensuring that all residents, regardless of where they live in the state, have access to critical medical services.

Thank you, in advance, for your attention to this important communication. As always, we look forward to working jointly with you in service to the people of the 9th Legislative District.


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