Conaway says emergency services bill will be back

TRENTON – An assemblyman whose bill to redesign emergency services did not receive the votes he was hoping for today said the bill will be back, unchanged, at a future session.

Herb Conaway, D-7, Delran, said A2463/S1650 was held back after an initial vote showed 38-32-4.

“We did expect it would pass narrowly,’’ he said, but with five members absent from Monday’s voting session he said he decided to pull it back and will bring it back another time.

The bill would make a variety of changes to how emergency services are conducted, including having EMTs and paramedics submit to background checks and making the Office of Emergency Medical Services in the Department of Health the lead state agency for the oversight of emergency medical services.

However, before the vote Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick warned this bill would transform a system that has worked well, and pointed out the governor has conditionally vetoed an earlier version.

He warned of possible effects on property taxes.

Conaway responded after the voting session ended that the bill actually could work to reduce taxes. 

For example, he said the number and method of deployment of ambulances and such vehicles in a county needs to be examined in terms of efficiency.

“This bill provides a mechanism to do that,’’ Conaway said.

The bill also could lead to fewer EMTs as other efficiencies are realized, he said.

The governor vetoed an earlier version, citing that although the bill seeks a more coherent regulatory structure, it could cost towns and the state millions of dollars.

Among the bill’s opponents are the N.J. State First Aid Council, which argued among other things that the bill would actually cause higher administrative costs, higher licensing fees, more bureaucracy, and reduced protections.

Nancy Pinkin of the First Aid Council said the two sides have to sit down together and find a way to preserve volunteers while providing emergency services to the state.

“We just went through Sandy,” she said, which provided proof of how crucial volunteers are to the state.

“Municipalities have limited resources,” she said, and volunteers have been providing good service for more than 80 years.

Conaway says emergency services bill will be back