MANCHESTER – The township has entered into a month-to-month agreement with Quality Medical Transport, of Bayville, for back-up emergency services, supplementing the work of the township’s two volunteer first aid squads.
Quality Medical Transport has been a back-up for decades. The difference is that its contract has never been with the township, but the two first aid squads.
“…The first aid squads do not have the authority to go into contract for services for the Township. Even though these contracts were well meaning and done with the best interest of the residents in mind, we must ensure that moving forward we are handling everything in a legally sound manner,” Manchester Business Administrator Donna Markulic told The Manchester Times. “…Only the Township, i.e. the Mayor, has the authority to go into contract with any entity/vendor to include ‘backup’ emergency medical services for the Township.”
Quality owner Sal Murante Sr. told The Manchester Times earlier this year his company was contracted by the squads; the contract with Manchester first aid was 24 years long, and Whiting for 19 years.
The township is preparing to create its own paid, full-time emergency medical services squad, with a tentative launch date of January 2020. Equipment, including rigs, has been ordered, and the township is actively hiring an EMS Director who will oversee the operation.
“So until the new Township Emergency Services Unit goes in effect we need assurance that Quality Medical will still provide the backup emergency services and we can deal directly with Quality on any issues that may arise. This contract is month to month until our new emergency services unit is in place,” Markulic said.
Volunteer organizations across the nation have had difficulty attracting and maintaining volunteers, Manchester first aid squads being no exception. Whiting has three rigs but can only run one because of lack of manpower. The squad runs 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and has between 20-25 members. Manchester First Aid Squad has 27 members and three rigs.
Quality works mostly with municipalities. It has 40 rigs – all of which are certified by Department of Health standards and above and beyond that – and 120 employees.
Statistics collected from the county indicated the volunteer squads were answering 25 percent of calls received. Quality and other ambulance services picked up the remaining 75 percent. While officials stressed they had no issues or problems with Quality, the township’s lack of a contract with and oversight of the third-party emergency service provider concerned them.
“Just prior to the new Township EMS becoming active, the Township will advertise for [request for proposals] for back-up emergency medical services to the new Township EMS rather than just the volunteer squads,” Markulic said. “This contract would be more robust including certain manpower requirements as well as minimum ambulance availability. We are currently working on this RFP with our attorney.”