Bergen County, NJ creates EMS fleet as volunteers decline

A lack of volunteers for its traditional emergency medical service forced New Jersey’s most populous county to buy ambulances and hire crews to staff them.

Bergen County created its own EMS fleet last month after finding that its residents needed more reliable service, reported.

The move came after Bergen County executive Jim Tedesco and a group of experts evaluated the volunteer services earlier this year.

Several EMS agencies in the region shuttered due to difficulty recruiting volunteers.

“Our local Emergency Medical Service professionals sometimes need help in delivering medical care to their residents due to staffing issues and high-volume calls,” said Tedesco.

“It makes sense for the county of Bergen to step in and provide backup service and assistance to those communities that need an extra hand.”

Bergen County EMS
The county bought four ambulances and at least two will operate every day.
Chris Pedota/ TODAY

Through grant money from the American Rescue Act, the county purchased four ambulances and hired 28 per-diem employees.

At least two of those ambulances will operate every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., said Capt. Matthew Tiedemann, the Bergen County emergency management coordinator.

“We had cops waiting for ambulances for 45 minutes sometimes. We needed to make sure more ambulances are on the roads,” Tiedemann said. “Hospitals weren’t able to provide more and volunteers are a dying breed during the day, because people need to work their full-time jobs.”

Last year, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that increased funding given to local ambulance and rescue squads because of the shortages.