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Gloucester City Solicitor Answers Questions About the New Ambulance Service...Starts April 1

6a00d8341bf7d953ef01bb07cd860f970d-800wiCNB Archives Saturday, February 26, 2011

By William E. Cleary Sr.

Gloucester City Council passed a resolution at Thursday's meeting by a 4-1 vote Lourdes_Ambulanceto hire an outside contractor to provide ambulance service for the City. Voting for the measure was Mayor William James, Councilman Jay Brophy, Councilman Bruce Parry, and Councilman John Hutchinson. Voting no was Councilwoman Kelly Ferry.

Absent were Councilmen Marchese and Spencer. The contract was awarded to Lourdes Health System.

The contract calls for Lourdes to provide Basic Life Ambulance Service to residents for three years starting April 1. 

 

Image: Lourdes provides ambulance service for the Township of Pemberton along with several other communities

 

According to City Solicitor John Kearney Lourdes will provide a two person crew 24/7 to operate out of a City building using City emergency vehicles.

 

Kearney said the only cost to the taxpayer for this service will be for the gas that will be used to run the vehicle.

 

"Lourdes will use the same billing company that the City has used over the past few years. Bills for services will go to patients and their insurance company. If there is no insurance and and no ability to pay Lourdes and its billing service will not pursue persons for payment. Lourdes has a philosophical commitment to help and the City expects to see that commitment shine forward in the ambulance service. Lourdes will pay its costs out of the funds it receives from the billing service.  If there is income above operation expenses that will be split. If a new ambulance is needed Lourdes will buy it," said Kearney.

 

 

Asked if any City EMT's/firemen will be laid off, Kearney said, "It is unknown whether or not this will have any impact on staffing at the fire department. At the very least it should relieve what pressure there may be at the Fire Department concerning staffing."

 

Asked why the resolution did not appear on the agenda for Thursday's meeting, "The review of the submitted proposals was completed a few hours prior to the meeting and in light of the fire department concerns over staffing the decision was made to move forward in as speedy a process as is allowed by the law," he said.

 

The City laid off 8 of the 31 member fire department in December because, according to the statement released by  mayor and council at the time,  “Refusal of union leaders to revise their position on onerous, expensive work rules have left Gloucester City with no choice but to issue layoff notices to eight fire-fighters, effective December 23."

 

A firefighter, who didn't want to be identified, said that moral is very low among the remaining firefighters. "Because of the recent layoffs and the uncertainty of the future everyone is moping around. We knew the City was seeking bids for the ambulance service but many of us were shocked to learn a contract had been awarded. You would have thought the City would have given us a heads up. Along with some explanation of what the future holds. But nothing. Not a peep. Instead we have to read about it on the Internet." 

Comments

1
Questions said...

Questions;

Who pays for vehicle maintenance?

Who pays for vehicle insurance?

Who indemnifies EMT performance?

Are the EMT's part of the State Pension Fund?

Does Gloucester City have to contribute directly into the EMT pension fund?

Is the City willing to post the entire contract on its website?

Why does Gloucester City need to have the Solicitor act as a community relations specialist?

Isn't it that involvement in day to day business that prevents the Solicitor for representing the City in matters such as the Kain firing?

 
 
2
kurt dillon said in reply to Questions...

Don't worry this mayor and council have alot of integrity and I'm sure all of these questions will be answered. Sounds like this service isn't costing the city a dime, I like the line about how the company won't go after people who can't pay, but they are going to operate on the money they receive from billing. Well genius if people can't pay how can this company operate? It's also great two council people couldn't come out for such an important matter, this is a victory for all of you tax payers look for that rebate check! NOT

 
 
3
curious said...

Let me start off by saying, this is a legitimate question, no sarcasm intended. A few months ago, wasn't this discussed and it was said that it would not be an issue for a few years, or am I confused with something else? I thought when the firefighters were layed off that it was said that it would not effect the ambulances. I know it's not the same effect, but I was under the impression that it was not even an issue that we would lose ambulance service through the town. I didn't like that the ff got laid off, but I am REALLY against this!  
Again, I could be wrong, please correct me if I am. 

 
 
4
and another thing said...

2 Council people out of 6 were not at the meeting? Isn't that why they ran for office so they could vote on things for us? Is showing up for a meeting once a month too much to ask? If it is please retire and let someone who is not too busy once a month have your "job" You should be happy that this is not a paying job (besides benefits), you two would be fired. 

Come to think of it, I need health benefits, I can say aye or nay when asked a question (it doesn't even have to be the right answer, as long as it's good for me) And I don't even have to show up? Hot damn I've found my calling! Get it together somebody..... PLEASE! 

 
 
5
Kearney Lies said...

First of all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why it wasn't announced at the council meeting. Like Mr. Stanton said in another post, this governing body is not transparent. The mayor and council hid this on purpose to prevent any questions or opposition. They didn't want any arguments, any questions. They wanted to get it (privatizing the ambulance) done quick and quiet. What about the residents? As far as I know no resident in Gloucester City had a say, or was given any opportunity to voice their opinion. And the Governing body wanted it that way. What a disgrace. All the taxpayers will have to pay for is gas? The city isn't paying Lourdes Health System a dime for three years to provide EMS?? That's crap. And as far as Kearneys comment about the layoffs, I'll say what's been said a million times over, the firefighters union offered $500,000 dollars in concessions. The union holds a letter written by Jack Lipsitt which states that because of the concessions, there would be no layoffs, then the city reniged on that agreement. ITS ALL LIES. 

 
 
6
This is gonna be good said...

I'm gonna cut through Kearneys crap for you, right here and right now. This is what you're going to get with privitazed ambulance service. Nickel and dime EMTs fresh out of school with no extensive training or experience. From what I understand, these EMTS will be paid $11.00 an hour. That's not a career, its a low paying job, and it's going to be taken that way by these employees, at the expense of people in Gloucester City in need of emergency medical attention. Everything looks good on paper and everything sounds good when its talked about in a meeting. Things, as they actually happen, are much different. TO OUR POLICE OFFICER FRIENDS, and I can't wait for this. Next time you say: "central, send me a 56", just wait and see the kind of help that's going to show up, especially if its a serious job where someone is seconds between life and death. Its gonna be far from the quality service that was given by the Gloucester City Fire Department, that I can guarantee. Now the cops are going to have to work on ambulance calls, because when two fresh idiots show up in a Lourdes ambulance and they dont know what to do, the cops arent going to have a choice...and the firefighter/EMTS they theyre used to, know, and had a good working relationship with (for the most part) will be long gone and no where to be found. 

 
 
7
Mike Stanton said...

'I am disappointed that these decisions regarding taxpayer money were made behind closed doors without transparency or accountability.'

'In the coming weeks, I will hold a meeting....where we will demand accountability....'

The quotes above were made by Senator Norcross in the GCN article, 'The Field of Broken Dreams'. His statements were directed at the SDA.

The quotes are just as appropriate for our current administration as they are for the SDA.
T

 
 
8
Why not said...

This is great. Like the police don't have enough to do already, now they're going to have to do an emt's job too. Sounds like a good idea to me, NOT!

 
 
9
Time for a stand. said...

Absolutely. Maybe it's time we get all the citizens who are tired of this administrations crap, and rally...demanding all of their resignations. Right in front of the mayors and every councilmans house. We can make sure they dont sleep a wink until they submit resignations letters. What do you think????

 
 
10
Shelly said...

Let me start off by saying that I DO NOT agree with the way the mayor and council handled this whole thing. I thought it was a kick in the rear to the residence of Gloucester City. They should be ashamed of themselves. There should have been due notice of the vote. 

On another note, someone had made a previous comment:

"This is what you're going to get with privitazed ambulance service. Nickel and dime EMTs fresh out of school with no extensive training or experience. From what I understand, these EMTS will be paid $11.00 an hour."

Well, I personally know the a handful of the EMTs that were hired by Lourdes in Pemberton, and they DO have many years of experience. I have worked along side them for many years and and would be more then comfortable having them serve Gloucester City as EMTs.

Another statement was made:

"That's not a career, its a low paying job, and it's going to be taken that way by these employees, at the expense of people in Gloucester City in need of emergency medical attention."

Well, I know for a fact that a few of the FFs from Gloucester City have part-time jobs as "low-paying" EMTs. So don't judge someones skills by how much they get paid.

So, as I have said before, these are again, just scare tatics brought on by the FD. Please dont be worried.

 
 
11
Please said in reply to Time for a stand....

Really, Well the people of Gloucester City voted these people in, that in itself says something. We elected them in to do the job they are doing because as a city we believed they know what they are doing. It has been said before and I will say it again, someone has to make the hard decisions in these times of financial problems and I guess that is what they are doing. So if you think you can do better, run for office and see how it works out for you. Maybe you already did and LOST.

 
 
12
Mike Stanton said in reply to Please...

Yes. This Administration was elected, are willing to make tough decisions, and deserve our respect for that. Unlike you ‘Please’, I do not want to guess (your words) they are making the right decisions, I want to know. I want to be informed. Do I deserve to be informed? If not, why? If I do deserve to be informed, please tell me how best to go about becoming informed.

Unlike many, maybe most, of the folks that delivered this Administration’s victory, I am not a family member, a close personal friend, nor member of the Democratic Club. How do you know what the plans for the city are? How do you know what direction the city is being taken? How do you know what information the tough decisions and choices are based on? Either you know the answers to these questions, or you defer to Mayor and Council, or you do not care. Well, I care! I do not defer to Mayor and Council! I want to know of their plans and intentions and what they base their decisions on.

The Mayor and Council do not have a track record of communicating their intentions to the citizens of GC and I challenge their family, friends, and fellow Dem members to prove otherwise. 

I am not the only one that is frustrated and concerned with the lack of transparency of this administration. 

What the solicitor stated above was a clear and concise response to questions posed. The solicitor deserves a thank you for being refreshingly candid. Unfortunately, why is it we have to hear the answers from the legal advisor to Mayor and Council and not the decision makers themselves?

 
 
13
Account Deleted said in reply to Mike Stanton...

I agree, Mike.

Lately it seems as if we, the taxpayers of Gloucester City, are paying John Kearney to be Mayor and Council’s Press Agent, Spokesperson and Director of Communications. Instead of the City Solicitor speaking on behalf of the Mayor and Council I would hope to see more of the Mayor and Council speaking on behalf of the Citizens of Gloucester City.

- Wil Levins

 
 
14
Era of Bullies. said...

This post is to people like Wil Levins and Mike Stanton. People who actually care and seemingly want decisions for this city to be made based on factual research and citizen input. And this is not meant as negativity toward you, im just pointing out what a shame the situation is. The Mayor, and his council do not care about you. They do not care about the citizens. In their small little minds theyre above you, and the citizens. And their actions have certainly proven that theory. They only care about themselves. 

 
 
15
Satisfied said...

If the Mayor and City Council "only care about themselves," why did the people of Gloucester overwhelmingly reelect them by enormous margins just three months ago? It's because the people of Gloucester like the direction that our city government is moving. If you don't like it, do some moving of your own. 

 
 
16
Citizen Pain said...

Why is Kearney handling development for Gloucester? Doesn't anyone know about Lindenwold's municipal building screw up? It sits as a shell on the WHP because work was shut down by the state. And guess who handled that.

 
 
17
Dazed and confused said...

I still havent seen the "Where" this unit will operate out of? A " City" Building?
Why not the FIREHOUSE like the EMT's Operate out of now? Hiding it away?
It just doesnt make sense

 
 
18
Tired of this said...

That's because the mayor and council haven't told anyone about what is going on. Last month they agreed to give Lourdes a 3 year contract to provide the service starting 4/1. Last night at the meeting they told John Schmidt that they haven't even received a contract from Lourdes to review all the information as to how it will be run, how billing will be done, where it will be located. Nothing! They couldn't answer any of his question's about the service. This is peoples lives at stake here and they again are going into something with blinders on. Their personal problem with the FD is now again going to effect service to the residents. Once again a back room deal is made and they don't have everything they need or are required to have so they can inform not only the FD but the public what is going on. At least Kelly Ferry stood up last month and voted against it. She must be getting tired of the good old boys club BS too. 

 
 
19
Come on now said in reply to Dazed and confused...

Do you relly think they would let them operate out of that fire house? even though it's a CITY BUILDING ! I think it would be awesome another slap in the union's face LOL!!!! 

 
 
20
SOS said...

I heard about this. The city solicotr said sorry to Mr. Schmidt that he did not understand why the city voted on a contract which he then said does not exist, has not been signed and no aggreements have been made and the city is still researching how the ambulance will work. Can one of our elected officials tell us please what the hell is going on.

 
 
21
Tucker Cleigh said...

You still have enough guys to fill 6 teams in a Rough Touch League. Need More Cops, Not Wackers!

 
 
22
williamMarshall said...

The will be operating out of the Pine Grove fire station on Jersey Ave. I guess they actually had a plan when they closed down that company. First time for everything!!

 
 
23
Paul Ellering said in reply to SOS...

The Gang does it again, they prove one thing, they commit their blunders with superb efficiency, John Kearney can't even explain or defend this bonehead move way to go guys!

 
 
24
time to leave office in disgrace said...

the james gang became a local joke several years ago. alcohol related stories appear to top the list. and this is what gloucester elected once again.

 
 
25
unsatisfied said in reply to Satisfied...

and just what direction are you talking about? I'm very confused. its costs more to live in Gloucester city this year then last year and we are offered less services.

 
 
26
Solicitor John said...

I'm sorry you are confused. That is your fault. Please let the mayor and council do the job they were elected to do. They will tell you after they make a decision.

This city is such a joke. Enough already.

 
 
27
Yep! said...

A "city building" isn't Pine Grove since that is a privaetely owned building. 

 
 
28
Don't forget... said...

i just can't wait until this all settles in and starts happening. I give it no longer than a couple months before the residents start complaining about the services they get. It's going to take away from the services the police can provide as well. With the GCFD ambulance, you usually have 2 good size men who can hold their own with psychiatric patients who might give them a problem. Wait until 2 tiny female EMTs show up on a psychiatric emergency, and a police officer has to ride in the back of the ambulance for every psych call...which Gloucester gets a lot of. That's if Lourdes will even transport psych patients. A lot of ambulance services have policies in place where they either don't transport psych patients, or require a police officer to ride in the back every time for safety reasons. So, this brilliant privatized ambulance move could potentially wind up stretching the police department thin as well.

 
 
29
Bill, An idea said...

Hey Cleary,

What do you think about this one? I think lourdes/the city should release the names of the Lourdes EMTs who will be providing EMS to the residents and visitors of Gloucester City. You can post them along with an article. I think we have a right to know who they are, and what kind of experience they have. Shouldnt be a privacy concern. Every EMT I know wears their names on their uniform shirts, so, I dont see what the big deal would be just releasing their names, and maybe a short history as to their time on the job and experience. You're going to need an ambulance sooner or later bill, as you are old, wrinkled and over the hill. , so, this should be of interest to you personally. (dont get mad, its a joke.) In all seriousness though, I think that would be something that is totally called for, especially since the City fathers made this move secretly, quietly and without public input. 

 
 
30
CNBNEWS.NET said...

A great idea for a story. I will try to get some answers for you.

As a resident of GC for the past 90 years (my 90th birthday was Oct. 18) there have been several occasions when I had to call our City ambulance for help. 

Those guys are the best and will certainly be missed and hard to replace. 

Bill

 
 
31
Dan Harkins said in reply to CNBNEWS.NET...

Bill,
Just realize that these EMT's work for Lourdes and not the City. They are not public employees and are not paid by taxpayers. Lourdes can tell you they don't have to release any info on these people and they are correct. I am one of the laid off guys and as a public employee my info and salary were open to the public as they paid me. If you get the info great just don't be surprised if you get resistance. Lastly thanks for the last sentence in your post.

 
 
32
So what will be different? said in reply to Dan Harkins...

So what will be different?

Our Fire Department has never willingly shared its internal information with the taxpayers.

The union expressed outrage when citizens sought information about their duties, daily performance and other working conditions.

The members of the Fire Department are mostly real nice guys. Some have displayed abrasive attitudes and were very defensive when asked to display public information. It didn't help matters when they went public to solicit support for their cause.

It is history now. It is over and done. We need to learn from the past if we wish to be successful in the future. Unfortunately we have little to reflect the track record of the past on which to evaluate the performance of our new ambulance service.

Hopefully, the billing records and other communication with Lourdes will be more transparent than past Fire Department records. That should allow the local Fire Department to have a basis for negotiation three years from now.

It appears to make sense to employ private sector companies who can display proficiency in the service purchased and have competition to help reduce costs.

We can allege things will be better or worse as we move forward with the City's plan. But it is pure speculation. Only if we engage in transparency and open discussion about the service received will we know if we are better off or worse off.

If we do not, absolutely nothing will be different.

 
 
33
Joe said in reply to CNBNEWS.NET...

Why is this such a great idea for a story? I never saw any of the city ff/emts singled out to talk about their experience as an emt.Why do you have to profile employees of a company who is supplying a service to your residents? Every one of your career ff/emts were one day a newbie. How come no one suggested that they be profiled and singled out? Its not like every resident knows all of those ff/emts so there is no merit to this idea. It is my opinion that the only reason this was suggested was to ridicule the employees who will be providimg this service. Lets try writing stories on more pertinent things like how council people dont live in the ward they represent or perhaps how mayor and council continue to spend money they claim they dont have!

 
 
34
yes said in reply to Joe...

I was going to say the same thing about all the newbie ff/emts that was hired by the city at one time. you know how it is if you are a newbie your put with a experience emt. I have been a emt for 5 years and have more experience then some of the ones laid off. we will be just fine with the Lourdes service 

 
 
35
be honest said...

Truthful anwsers please 

1 was every firefighter /EMT hired by the GCFD experienced when they started ?
2 was a ff/emt ever hired by GCFD and sent to fire school or Basic EMT school ? if yes then no to experience ?
3 does the GCFD put the guys that lost their license (drivers license) to DUI on the ambulance while their license is suspended ?

Please think about this before you talk bad about another service ?

 
 
36
WELL said in reply to be honest ...

1,no
2,yes
3,yes

 
 
37
Hard facts said...

Despite how you may turn the request to release the names of the Lourdes EMTs back on the fire department, lets consider one thing. You can bash the firefighters all you want, about being hired without experience, about other incidents, but one thing remained undisputed. The GCFD ambulance has provided to quality emergency medical care to the residents of Gloucester since the 1900s. They have saved countless lives based on unsurpassed knowledge, skills and abilities. If anyone can dispute that fact, step forward. The point is, the GCFD is a proven, high quality service. Lourdes EMS isn't. If the lives of our residents are now going to be in their hands, its my point of view that they have a lot to prove. Releasing their names and experience is a start. And no, Joe, the idea of releasing their names and experience is not to ridicule or degrade anyone. I see it as more of an introduction to the residents so they know who will be coming to save their lives in the event of an emergency. The residents have that right. And most of the residents know every person who currently shows up on a GCFD ambulance and are comfortable with the care they provide. I enjoy the feeble attempts to bash the career firefighters on here. And you can say whatever you want. The GCFD ambulance is the best around, hands down. Until April first that is.

 
 
38
Hard facts said...

I just want to make a couple of additions to the last comment. I am obviously against Lourdes, or any outside EMS agency coming into Gloucester, as I feel the city fathers are stripping the residents of a proven high quality service to advance a political agenda. But through contract negotiaions, union battles, political battles etc...I think sometimes you lost sight of the single most important thing. Emergency services are about the people. The people dont care about contracts, politicians, union battles etc...when there is an emergency. They just want Cops/Firemen/EMTs to show up. And they want to be confident in the help that is sent to them. I think releasing names,bios, and experience will be the first step in instilling that confidence in the residents. Imagine you're an elderly person with a boat load of medical problems who utilizes the ambulance constantly. And suddenly theres a change in who provides those services. If you were that elderly person would you be scared? I sure would be. And that isnt right. This is why these people need to know who is going to show up at their door, where theyve been, and what experience and training they have. Bottom line, its about the residents. 

 
 

- See more at: http://www.gloucestercitynews.net/clearysnotebook/2011/02/gloucester-city-solicitor-answers-questions-about-new-ambulance-service.html#sthash.fFneOGMV.dpuf

 

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