NEWS, SPORTS, COMMENTARY, POLITICS for Gloucester City and the Surrounding Areas of South Jersey and Philadelphia

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Firemen's Union is Against the Privatizing of Ambulance Service

  The Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA) Locals 51 and 251 has issued the N114007471967364_3123 following press release in regards to the laying off of eight Firefighters/EMTS:

  With the impending layoffs of eight Gloucester City firefighters scheduled for December 23, the Gloucester City Fire Department (GCFD) has been informed of an additional plan, currently in the works by Mayor William James and Council to privatize ambulance services in Gloucester City.

  An official date of this privatization act is unknown. The governing body has recently met with county officials and representatives from several area hospitals to formulate an operational plan, as well as a contractual agreement to license, manage, and operate emergency medical services in Gloucester City after the layoff of eight city firefighters.

  Ambulance service in Gloucester City has always been operated, supervised and staffed by the GCFD.

  Donation Box If allowed to take place, this proposed action will have a large impact upon residents, business owners, and visitors to Gloucester City.

  Anytime a person in need of medical assistance dials 911, an ambulance staffed solely by professional Gloucester City firefighters arrives at your doorstep.

  These firefighters are cross-trained as certified NJ Department of Health Emergency Medical Technicians, which provides them with the basic lifesaving skills used to render care on scene and en route to a hospital setting.

  The GCFD has always maintained a high standard of care, compassion and professionalism for services to you, our customers. The knowledge, skills and abilities of Gloucester City Firefighter/EMTS are forged upon constant rigorous training, vast experience of members, and the mentoring passed upon each generation of firefighters to help aid their fellow citizens during distress.

  In Gloucester City, when you call for help, it is always people you know personally and trust that respond to these emergencies.


However, when the Mayor and Council agree to this privatization, the GCFD believes it will lower the standard of care for you, the resident. Typically, a privatized ambulance service hires young, newly licensed EMTs to staff their units, and pays them a significantly low hourly rate to provide emergency medical care to other human beings.

  This means that knowledge and experience of pre-hospital medicine am-ong these employees is virtually non-existent, or limited, potentially affecting how a sick or injured person is triaged and treated.

  Secondly, if there is ever a problem or concern with how a GCFD Firefighter/EMT handles an emergency, a call for quality control can easily be made to Fire Headquarters, where a fire officer rectifies the situation directly with the firefighter in question.

  In the private sector, it is very difficult for EMS supervisors to follow up on inquiries due to a long chain of command and those supervisors having to manage such a large number of employees.

  Accessibility to Gloucester City is also a concern because it is unknown where these private ambulances will respond to em-ergencies from. Response times may increase during the most critical period, causing further harm to the patient.

  Also, the GCFD currently uses a form of billing for emergency medical care referred to as “soft billing.” Essentially, this means that city residents are billed for care and transport to a hospital.

 This bill is forwarded to insurance companies, and if the resident has limited insurance, or is uninsured, then the bill is dropped and not forwarded to a collection agency, therefore not affecting personal credit.

  Private ambulance services, such as those operated by area health systems, will forward transport bills to a debt collector if not paid in full by the resident or their insurance company.

  Lastly, with the privatization of the GCFD ambulance, residents will have an obvious decrease in fire safety, as their ambulance will no longer be staffed by firefighters cross-trained as EMTs.

  Gloucester City residents received a full array of fire and medical protection. Simply put, it “was” some of the best in the region. This was done all with one of the lowest tax rates in Camden County.

  Many communities receive far less for more money. It is the position of the Gloucester City Firefighters to advise all residents that there is no need for any layoffs and privatization of EMS.

  The GCFD is confident the actions by City government against the fire department are not due to financial shortcomings, “but a personal vendetta by Mayor James and his cohorts.”

  The FMBA conceded approximately $500,000 annually in exchange for the assurance that no firefighters would be laid off, and the City of Gloucester City rejected this offer making statements that they plan to shrink the department through attrition.

  A total of 11 positions in the fire department have been lost without replacement in 2010, with nine being through layoffs and two additional through retirement and injury in the line of duty.

  Gloucester City Firefighters can no longer stand to watch the department be decimated in the ranks and have life safety of employees and residents tossed to the wayside under the guise of “financial distress,” while other city departments continue to hire new employees and distribute overtime.

  The above statements are fact and the GCFD urges all taxpayers to educate themselves in these matters. Please make follow ups and view in black and white what your elected officials are hiding from the taxpayer, and then decide for yourselves what level of service you deserve.

  For information on the web about Gloucester City's spending, visit

  Call Fire Headquarters at 456-0060, and also your local council person and mayor with all questions and concerns about these issues. Open Public Rec-ords Act (OPRA) forms for all city business are available at the Municipal Building, 512 Monmouth St.

  Your voice can also be heard at the monthly City Council meeting, normally the fourth Tuesday of the month at 8 p.m. at City Hall, 313 Monmouth St.


(Reprinted from the Gloucester City News)


Note: As for the author of this press release there was no name attached to the document.