WEST WINDSOR: Council proposes ordinance to establish volunteer EMT unit

By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
WEST WINDSOR — Aiming to supplement its paid emergency medical technicians with volunteers, Township Council has introduced an ordinance that establishes a volunteer emergency medical services unit within the township’s Department of Public Safety.
Under the terms of the ordinance, which was introduced Monday night, the proposed Volunteer Emergency Medical Services Unit would fall under the Division of Fire & Emergency Services within the Department of Public Safety.
A public hearing and final action on the ordinance is set for Township Council’s Sept. 14 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Municipal Complex.
If the ordinance is approved, an application process will be set up for anyone interested in volunteering as an emergency medical technician. Prospective volunteers need to be at least 18 years old and live within 10 miles of West Windsor Township. They would need to obtain a New Jersey EMT-B certification.
This is not the first time that West Windsor Township has relied on volunteer emergency medical technicians. Until the township severed its relationship with the volunteer Twin “W” First Aid Squad in March, its members were available when the township’s paid crews were not working.
Under that prior arrangement, West Windsor Township’s paid emergency medical technicians worked seven days per week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Twin “W” First Aid Squad’s emergency medical technicians handled medical calls from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days per week.
But when the township ended its relationship with the Twin “W” First Aid Squad, it hired three additional emergency medical technicians so there would be enough staff to provide emergency medical care 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
There are 14 employees in the Division of Fire & Emergency Services, who are trained as firefighters and emergency medical technicians and who can handle fire or medical calls. Of the 14, nine are assigned to handle medical emergencies around the clock, seven days per week.
Two of the remaining five are assigned to work as firefighters weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and three serve as fire inspectors. The volunteer fire companies handle the fire-related calls, seven days a week, around the clock. They are supplemented by the paid staff during the daytime.
Nevertheless, there is a need for volunteer emergency medical technicians, said James Yates, the director of the township’s Division of Fire & Emergency Services. There are times when a second ambulance is needed, and the volunteer emergency medical technicians could respond to that call.
“All communities rely on ‘mutual aid’ arrangements, but if you have a cadre of volunteer emergency medical technicians, they could respond to a second call or a third call (within West Windsor Township),” Mr. Yates said. It would reduce the need to rely on mutual aid from another township.
In a mutual aid arrangement, an ambulance from a neighboring town would respond to help. It is not unusual for West Windsor to call on the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad or the Lawrence Township Emergency Medical Services unit to answer a second call if the township’s ambulance crew is already handling a call, he said.
Mr. Yates pointed out that most communities have one paid emergency medical technician crew. If West Windsor called on the Lawrence Township Emergency Medical Services unit, it means the Lawrence crew would not be available to take calls in Lawrence, he said.
“We would not be taxing” other communities’ resources if additional volunteer emergency medical technicians were available in West Windsor Township, Mr. Yates said. He added that volunteers and volunteer services help to build community spirit and a sense of camaraderie. 