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May 23, 2016

There are nearly 30,000 certified emergency medical service personnel – that fill the ranks of volunteer services around the state – but New Jersey is moving toward a more professional system of paramedics run by hospitals. There are 1,600 licensed paramedics in the state.

Last week was national emergency medical services week. Gov. Chris Christie issued a proclamation honoring their service, and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Medical Services handed out thank you notes to each of the EMS workers.

But state legislators have been trying to reduce the number of volunteers, who provide basic life support, and increase the number of paramedics, who are responsible for advanced life support. They also want the state to start monitoring EMS services and set standards for licensing.

Christie has twice vetoed a bill that would call for that, citing its effect on volunteers and property taxes if municipalities were required to provide these services.

Still, the ranks of paramedics, typically employed by hospitals, are growing while the ranks of volunteers thinning, as medical support becomes more complicated and there are fewer volunteers. According to the state, EMS personnel respond to more than 1 million 911 calls each year.

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