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Village Council Votes on Defunding the Per Diem EMT Program on Wednesday

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The Village of Ridgewood, civilian per diem  paid daytime EMS program has been in existence since the early 1990’s. This civilian per diem  paid daytime  EMS program supplements  the 30 EMT Volunteers who respond to calls 7 PM to 6 AM, weekends and general alarms. In 2020, there were over 1300 EMS calls and 440 Emergency Services calls in the Village. The Volunteers donated over 18,000 hours, not including training.

The Village Council  has publicly decided  to  defund the current daytime EMS  operations  from civilian per diem paid EMT’s  to paid firefighters. The Village is making  this operational  change because they have failed to thoroughly investigate  as to  why on 3 occasions, that the paid EMTs did not immediately respond to a call.  If the Village Manager and the Council  would have properly investigated and report what happened instead of immediately reacting without knowing the facts, this would be a non issue today.  The  radio alerting system at  Headquarters 33 Douglas Place failed on 2 of the occasions. The radio alerts were not received. At times,  there are  dead zones  at the building and the the alert is not received.  How can the Village lay blame on the  EMT for not responding immediately on communication failure?   Last year, the solution was found to remedy the alerting issue. The operations officers  engaged a  visual alerting system in conjunction with the audible  tones. It was never a problem of sleeping that caused the delayed response. It was only in getting the message. On the third instance,  the paid EMT  had a medical emergency that rendered him unable to hear the alert. He has since left the position.
In these instances, the residents were never in any  harm  or  jeopardy because of the delayed arrival of the ambulance. For every medical call in the Village, Police Officers trained in First Aid (many of these officers are EMTS), are  dispatched and are the First Responder. These Responders  evaluate, provide care and  can stabilize the patient.  The Fire Department responds with an  Engine with EMTS as well if available. There was no delay in care nor transport to the hospital.

Unfortunately there was not any open dialogue between the Village Manager, Village Council and the Fire Chief to discuss with the Emergency Services Chief as what had happened and what was done to rectify the situation by  Emergency Services. It was only to be ammunition to fund for additional firefighters and defund the civilian per diem  EMS program.

The  proposed response plan announced  by the Mayor and Village Manager duplicates responsibilities of emergency personnel.  Due to the nature of the job and its unpredictable requirements, this will certainly put residents at risk.  A  choice has to be made as to which job task the firefighter will perform? Fire or EMS?
To eliminate this problem, The Emergency Services  Chief  had proposed to the Village to hire additional civilian per diem EMTs  and  to  schedule  1 or 2 additional per diem EMTs at Douglas Place to handle first and second due EMS calls. This would allow the second EMT to continue to be provided from the fire department or allow 2 EMTs to cover the calls from Emergency Services Headquarters. This  will resulting in  having sufficient  number of EMTs to cover both the first and second due calls. EMS response will be  independent of fire personnel  assigned for concurrent operations and ensure all calls are answered.    Hire one  EMT as a Supervisor  and he would cover daytime office hours as well as providing EMT coverage. This is how it is done in many other jurisdictions. Emergency Services tried this in the past but the Village said that they wanted to use the Firefighters as they have plenty of free time on their hands and they were getting paid anyway. So why hire additional EMTS?
In recent years, 2 cities alone in Bergen County, Hackensack and Englewood implement Fire Department EMS coverage. Only to find out a short time later, it was not the right decision and cost them a lot of money. Why does  the Village of Ridgewood think that they can do better and less cost? Have they spoken with the Chiefs of those cities? Lessons  can be learned by not repeating the failures of others.
The Village plan to defund the civilian per diem paid EMS program and give full operations to the Fire Department is a risk and a safety hazard to the residents of the Village. Currently, the per diem  EMT, responds from the firehouse alone to the medical call and is followed by a fire engine with a crew containing an EMT.  There is not a dedicated committed  Fire Department EMT whom is only assigned to EMS for the shift.  The Firefighter  is wearing  two Public Safety hats at the same time. One as a Firefighter and  one as an  EMT for the ambulance.  The firefighter  cannot  perform both jobs at the same time if there are simultaneous emergencies (Fire and EMS). If the FireFighter is engaged on a fire call, he can not go on the ambulance call. The Village ambulance will not be able to respond to the medical call. As a NJ State licensed  BLS Ambulance, it is a requirement of NJ State Department of Health regulations for a licensed Ambulance  while “in service”to respond to an emergency call  shall be staffed with a minimun of 2 EMTS. In Service does mean responding to the call. Currently the  per diem EMT drives the Ambulance to the scene while the Fire Department Engines brings an EMT. This is in violation on licensure and State Regulations subject to fines(more cost to the Village) and operations being shut down by the State Inspectors. Ridgewood is operating in Violation.  And by hiring 2 new Firefighters, that still have to be schooled and experience  in Firefighting and EMS, how cantering these 2 people cover the daytime EMS operations without significant overtime to the current Firefighters? How much will this cost the Village? Has it even been considered by the Village Manager and Fire Chief?  I can guarantee you that overtime alone will far exceed the cost of 2 firefighters. The Village is making decisions without knowing all the facts. How the previous problem has been rectified  and what will happen if the Village adapts the budget.
Just a month ago,  the Fire Department was operating  on a smoke condition call in the business district. Almost simultaneously  there was a medical call. The Fre Department advised Central Dispatch they they were unable to provide a Fire Fighter EMT for the EMS call in the Village.  Central Dispatch  was instructed  to page for a general request for a volunteer EMT to cover the call  with the per diem EMT. By Legal Statue, the Per Diem EMT could not bring that ambulance to the scene of the Emergency. The Village would have had to request from MICOM to find an ambulance even though one was waiting in Ridgewood with 1 EMT but the ambulance was missing the Fire Department EMT(that was expected to be there). Had no volunteers responded to assist the per diem EMT, the patient would have waited for a mutual aid ambulance  dispatched from MICCOM.  This means ambulances  can be sent from anywhere within Bergen County.

The residents should be concerned for patient transport if this is how the Village Manager, Mayor and Fire Department has chosen to handle first-due EMS calls, let alone, second-due calls.
Understanding of this incident is vital to an overall understanding of EMS operations in Ridgewood.  Based on the number of calls for service for both departments. This will not be  an isolated incident and feel that this will be further exacerbated as the new high density housing units become populated.

For this exact reason, the  Village proposal is not in the best interest of the residents and puts them at risk. Even could be the difference between life or death. This is  why  it is against the State Regulations to have less than  2 licensed EMT in the ambulance  while “IN SERVICE” . Yes, “in service “means as soon as the ambulance is dispatched.  The Village Manager and the Fire Chief must  not  assign emergency personnel multiple emergency responsibilities that can occur at the same time.  When there are two needs at once, one will always be left unanswered or delayed.

It is necessary to  keep EMS personnel separate and staffed with sufficient personnel to meet the needs of daytime requests for EMS service.  The per diem positions for daytime EMS are far less costly that that of a firefighter.  Consider the full compensation package and contractual agreements are taken into account.
Emergency Services brings revenue to the Village. The budget is approximately $350,000 which is offset by about $300,000 in revenue from insurance billing.  The per diem  civilian  daytime EMS budget is a fixed budget of about $75.000 per year. We know that the EMT salary will not vary much from year to year.  Two new Firefighters, initially earning $37,000 each or so, does not include benefits, overtime, inflation overtime, etc will rise to well over $100,000 per Firefighter within 3 years or less.  The 2 new firefighters still have to go to Firefighter School as well as EMT School (not at the same time). How long will that take to happen? And will they pass EMT school? Lastly, EMTs need experience.  The new EMT/Firefighters will be lacking in experience.
The Village proposal  brings  additional cost, increased tax and risk to the residents. And by not knowing what the regulations are, there will be much more costs than anticipated due to overtime. KEEP the PROGRAM AS IT HAS BEEN OPERATING FOR OVER 40 YEARS and Hire additional per diem EMTS and keep EMS within Emergency Services. The Council is making  the wrong decision by accepting the budget proposal that will defund the daytime EMS operation. Listen to those that have been providing EMS and constantly training in EMS.

27 thoughts on “Village Council Votes on Defunding the Per Diem EMT Program on Wednesday

  1. This battle is because of our shitty fire department. Why are they getting paid 6 figures when our day time PER DEIM EMS is getting paid just slightly above minimum wage no benefits? Ridgewood EMS has been providing our town with services forever. And certainly if they take over the day time operations, we will lose all the free volunteer hours they give at night. The fire department is trying to justify their jobs. Imagine being paid 100k to sit around sleep and eat. Must be nice.

    Let’s not forget our Mayor’s son is an employee of Ridgewood Fire. I think this is a huge conflict of interest. I guess they need Mommy to protect them.

    Ridgewood Fire should not get ANY more of our tax money. Which this is a vote to raise taxes 4.3% HOW DOES THAT HELP US?? We need to support Ridgewood EMS.

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  2. They can’t even do fire. They are the laughing stock of the county.

    Van Goor is a parasite who has drained millions from this community. Susan thinks she can do whatever she wants , and if the council doesn’t speak up they’re just going to be her puppets – and be named in the lawsuits when her house of cards comes crashing down. Vote her out in 2022!

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  3. It sounds like the overtime budget in the fire department and police department are going to be overflowing.

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  4. I love our village Firefighters.

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  5. The Part time paid EMTs have only themselves to blame for this. Keep crying boys and girls, no one wants to call for an ambulance and not get one because you part time EMTs are irresponsible.

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  6. “Keep crying” – I see the firefighters have arrived to the comment section again today. They have nothing better to do than sit around and comment on the blog

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  7. Who’s next on the chopping block. The pickle ball group.

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  8. It’s easy to take advantage pf people who are:
    RICH and STUPID

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  9. Why only in the daytime ? I guess the fireman need their beauty sleep.

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  10. Simple math. Make enough hires that her sons are higher in seniority. Safer from layoffs when the hatchet falls. Bonus points for doing it with all the office doors locked, pretend they can’t give you the real numbers. Pull the money from our pockets to give to her kids. Susan needs to step down. This is ridiculous.

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  11. For years, very little was asked of the per diem emts while on duty. Get the ambulance to a call promptly. They managed to mess up the most simple part of tbe job. Multiple times. Multiple people.

    He or she who lives in a glass house shouldn’t be throwing stones about what other departments do, did, or don’t do all day. They have no one to blame but themselves .

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  12. Can’t the town find a way to bury it in the Ridgewood water budget?

  13. Ahhh yes the cry babies are at it again. You part time EMTs screwed up and then tried to cover up your screw up by lying.

    Obviously you cry 😭 babies don’t realize the coverup is worse then the failure to respond to an ambulance request.

    Too late to try to stop this now. Maybe someone should call you babies a Waaaaambulance 😭😥

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  14. Segregation of duties seems like justification enough to stop this move. Why put all the eggs in the Fire Dept’s basket. Let FD focus on fires, rescue, and fire prevention and let EMS focus on EMS. Better results for the village residents.

    unless… resident safety isn’t the reason for this change? pretty suspect that the mayor hasn’t acknowledged her conflict of interest.

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  15. The EMS Department makes more money from their billing insurance than they spend in their operational budget and per diem pay; so they make money for the town.

    How is it that adding two new full-time fireman, we are saving the town any money? Especially given these are unionized employees with guaranteed pay raises over time.

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  16. Last time I checked these people are supposed to be serving the village residents and visitors. I hope the Village is smart and isn’t held hostage by these people and their vague threats to walk away completed. If they don’t like it, then leave!

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  17. Something really smells here, this seems to me that the funny part but wants all the control. There’s more going on than being said????

  18. It is a bold face lie the EMT missed calls… so just stop.
    If they are SOOO bad, then why does the Fire Dept want the EMT to service ALL EMT calls Monday to Friday, 7 pm to 7 am and on weekends??
    See the how this plan is corrupt?
    This is a lie being spread by the Fire Chief.. who tells it to the Mayor. Why ?
    So he can get two more Fire Fighters even though he ALREADY got one in December
    This plan for TWO NEW firefighters costs the Village over $190000 Thousand a year with OUT over time.
    And guess who schedules the Per diem EMTS??? the Fire Chief.. WHY?????
    It is a FACT one per diem missed two calls because in part he or she did NOT hear the weak signal which was sent around the Midland Park water tower. When Ryan the Coodinator asked for funding to make this signal stronger, The Village Manager REFUSED to Fund the Signal for the EMT.. and then what happened?? The EMT had to fix the signal THEMSELVES… Call the Council tell them NOT to DEFUND THE EMT Tell the not to play with our safety during a pandemic

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  19. If you believe the problem of not responding to ambulance requests is an equipment problem your being lied to. The equipment has been in that building on Douglas Place for years with no complaints about receiving calls. Why all of a sudden is there an “equipment Problem” Ill tell you why, because they are trying to cover up the fact that the part time EMTs were doing things they weren’t suppose to be doing and that’s why they missed the calls.

    Turn it over to the Fire Department and fix this problem. No one should have to wait an unreasonable time for an Ambulance, ever, PERIOD!

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  20. Equipment was tampered with on the water tower by T-Mobile. Work orders can show the repair. Implying that anyone is lying is extremely disrespectful, Jim…

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  21. JAANBO
    May 11, 2021
    thats a bold face lie ,,,
    ONE FACT IS THE VILLAGE COUNCIL, MAYOR AND VILLAGE MANAGER HAVE CAUSED MUCH TENSION BETWEEN FIRST RESPONDERS AND the FACT is Valley Hospital is leaving… There are 4 paid fire depts in Bergen County Hackensack, Englewood, Teaneck , Ridgewood… They ALL have hospitals.. EXCEPT for Ridgewood,, soooo The Village Manager went to the Fire Dept in 2019 and said You guys have to do MORE in order to keep funding you… and the Fire Union said nope.. so the Fire Fighters made a deal to ONLY DO THE DAYTIME EMT CALLs , and said let the EMT do only night calls 7 pm to 7 am MONDAY TO FRIDAY AND ALL WEEKENDS… What a sweet deal.. right? Oh wait lets DEFUND the EMT as well and start rumors they miss calls… Lie,,,only 2 calls were answered late, poor signal and that person was let go 2 YEARS AGO… SO now Van Goor wants two MORE FIRE FIGHTERS IN ADDITION to the one he already got in December 2020 and wants the TAXPAYOR to fund them which is over 190000 a year for both , to start with pension, benefits, stipend, etc…. and where he said if he is short EMTs he can ask other towns for help??? Really !!! what happens if the other towns have their own emergency?? POOR PLAN AND WE THE TAXPAYERS WILL HAVE LESS SAFETY… TELL THEM TO VOTE NO

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  22. How many towns in Bergen County, other than Ridgewood, have paid personal staffing and responding with Ambulances? Maybe Teaneck and Hackensack. So why do we need paid people staffing our Ambulance? Why can’t volunteers replace the paid staff?

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  23. Anonymous said,

    Equipment was tampered with on the water tower by T-Mobile. Work orders can show the repair.

    Ok, great, provide a link to the work orders that show T- Mobile technicians tampered with the Village equipment. I’ll believe it when I see the proof.

  24. Joan Lutz, ——- May 12, 2021

    You stated

    “… There are 4 paid fire depts in Bergen County Hackensack, Englewood, Teaneck , Ridgewood… They ALL have hospitals.. EXCEPT for Ridgewood…..

    1) If you think the only reason the Village has a Paid Fire Department is because of Valley Hospital you are sadly mistaken. The Paid Fire Department was established long before the Valley Hospital was even a plan on paper. You should at least do some research before you make such foolish easily refutable statements. And FYI, Valley Hospital will be providing medical care at the Ridgewood Facility long after the Hospital building in Paramus is opened and operating.

    You further stated “soooo The Village Manager went to the Fire Dept in 2019 and said You guys have to do MORE in order to keep funding you… and the Fire Union said nope.. so the Fire Fighters made a deal to ONLY DO THE DAYTIME EMT CALLs , and said let the EMT do only night calls 7 pm to 7 am MONDAY TO FRIDAY AND ALL WEEKENDS… What a sweet deal.. right?

    2) What a out and out lie is more like it! This entire comment is fabricated and false. Here are the FACTS…..In the mid 1980s the Ambulance Corps Volunteers did not have enough Volunteer members available cover daytime calls for medical emergencies. The Ambulance Corps and the Fire Department came up with the plan to have one part-time paid EMT and one paid Firefighter respond on all daytime calls (7 AM to 7 PM). This response plan to medical emergencies has been in place for decades.

    Then you FALSELY claimed,

    “SO now Van Goor wants two MORE FIRE FIGHTERS IN ADDITION to the one he already got in December 2020 and wants the TAXPAYOR to fund them which is over 190000 a year for both.”

    3) Newly hired Ridgewood Firefighters do not cost the Village $190,000.00 a year. Starting pay for a Firefighter is around $50,000.00. Please stop lying.

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  25. JAANBO
    May 12, 2021
    you stated
    1) If you think the only reason the Village has a Paid Fire Department is because of Valley Hospital you are sadly mistaken. The Paid Fire Department was established long before the Valley Hospital was even a plan on paper. You should at least do some research before you make such foolish easily refutable statements. And FYI, Valley Hospital will be providing medical care at the Ridgewood Facility long after the Hospital building in Paramus is opened and operating.
    FALSE VALLEY HOSPITAL IS LEAVING AND THERE WILL BE ZERO AMUBLANCE CALLS WHEN THEY ARE GONE… DO YOUR RESEARCH. THE PAID FIRE DEPT IS ONE OF 4 IN BERGEN COUNTY .. ALL THE REST ARE VOLS AND THE CHIEF MAKES MORE THAN THE PATERSON CHIEF WHO OVERSEES 300 FIRE FIGHTERS.. LOOK IT UP. THE FIRE DEPT COST OVER 8 MILLION DOLLARS IN THE TAX LEVY.
    You stated Here are the FACTS…..In the mid 1980s the Ambulance Corps Volunteers did not have enough Volunteer members available cover daytime calls for medical emergencies. The Ambulance Corps and the Fire Department came up with the plan to have one part-time paid EMT and one paid Firefighter respond on all daytime calls (7 AM to 7 PM). This response plan to medical emergencies has been in place for decades.

    FALSE THE EMT HAD PLENTY OF VOLUNTEERS. THE VILLAGE MANAGER AND MAYOR CAME UP WITH THE PLAN IN 2018 TO SYSTEMATICALLY DEMOLISH THE EMT WITH NO PROOF OF A SAFETY ISSUE WHICH WAS MANUFACTURED. A DISGUSTING LIE

    You said 3) Newly hired Ridgewood Firefighters do not cost the Village $190,000.00 a year. Starting pay for a Firefighter is around $50,000.00. Please stop lying.

    FALSE LOOK IT UP.. THAT STATMENT IS LAUGHABLE. THEY COST MORE WITH PENSION, BENEFITS, STIPEND AND OVER TIME… A LIFE TIME JOB THE TAXAPAYOR NOW PAYS… DONT YOU HAVE A VOLUNTEER PROGRAM??? STOP LYING YOURSELF…

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  26. JOAN LUTZ, You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to make up your own facts. The Career Fire Department is not connected to Valley Hospital in any way, so if, and that’s a big IF, Valley Hospital ceases to exist, what do you think will happen to that property? Do you think they will turn it into a park. I love this comment you made, and I quote,

    FALSE VALLEY HOSPITAL IS LEAVING AND THERE WILL BE ZERO AMUBLANCE CALLS WHEN THEY ARE GONE…

    I admit, you will have to explain to me how Valley Hospital leaving Ridgewood will eliminate all ambulance calls. That I believe is a lie, so please prove me wrong.

    How much the Fire Chief is paid has nothing to do with the failures of the Paid Part time EMTs failure to do their duties. Stop bashing our Fire Chief and firefighters to promote your failed cause to keep part time paid EMTs. The decision has been made.

    Apparently you have a reading comprehension problem, Yes I stated In the mid 1980s ( NOTICE I SAID IN THE MID 1980s NOT 2018) the Ambulance Corps Volunteers did not have enough Volunteer members available cover daytime calls for medical emergencies. The Ambulance Corps and the Fire Department came up with the plan to have one part-time paid EMT and one paid Firefighter respond on all daytime calls (7 AM to 7 PM). This response plan to medical emergencies has been in place for decades. Please try reading more carefully, before you make a complete fool of yourself.

    You claim 3 firefighters will cost $190.00.00 a year, OK. put up or shut up, prove it with factual information, not I think or I believe nonsense, real numbers from a reputable source.

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  27. JAANBO
    June 11, 2021 Mr. Fireman,
    My statements are FACT. Something you know nothing about. Since you have so much time on your hands,, it is YOU who should prove me wrong. and You Cant.
    You said How much the Fire Chief is paid has nothing to do with the failures of the Paid Part time EMTs failure to do their duties. Stop bashing our Fire Chief and firefighters to promote your failed cause to keep part time paid EMTs. The decision has been made. It is YOU WHO are bashing the Paid Part time EMTS and they DID NOT fail to do their duties… thats a Bold FACE lie. Typical… response in trying to justify a 8 million tax able budget for Ridgewood, when 90 percent are all volunteers. The decision ,, the final one may surprise you. Lastly, you have a reading, truthtelling and math comprehension problem. A fire fighter, makes 39,000 to start, plus pension, benefits, stipend, etc and overtime… a cool 80,000 that taxpayers now must pay… for life… Instead of writing on the BLOG during fire fighter time, you should do some truth finding research .

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