BELMAR, NJ — Less than three months after the Belmar First Aid Squad announced it would be permanently shutting down, the delivery of emergency medical services is now a borough-run operation.

Since the official switchover on April 1, borough officials report that is has been a seamless transition with some 20 paid emergency medical technicians from the former privately operated squad signing on with the borough’s new Emergency Medical Services Division.

“We had a very smooth transition … and they haven’t missed a call,” Belmar Fire Administrator Ryan Dullea told the borough council during its April 6 meeting.

In its first five days of operation, the new division, which falls under the Department of Public Safety, responded to about 20 calls, said Dullea, who has been working on the rollout with Police Chief Tina Scott and Business Administrator Edward Kirschenbaum.

While ambulances are no longer stationed at the now-closed Belmar First Aid Squad building at 414 Ninth Avenue, they can be seen parked in front of the borough’s 10th Avenue Safety Pavilion on Ocean Avenue, which has become its temporary headquarters. The borough purchased the vehicles and other equipment for $185,500 from the squad as part of an asset sale agreement.

READ MORE: Belmar in Final Stretch to Take Over Emergency Medical Services on April 1

Meanwhile, the borough council took several additional steps at its April 6 meeting related to the new operation, including amending its 10-year police contract with Lake Como to include first aid and EMS services.

Under the shared services agreement approved by both municipalities, Lake Como will pay 25% of Belmar’s annual first aid operating budget, excluding beach-related expenditures. Currently, Lake Como pays one-quarter of Belmar’s annual police budget, which last year amounted to $1.32 million. While five years remain on that contract, both municipalities can terminate the new first aid/EMS portion with at least six months' written notification. 

Until now, Lake Como had been paying the Belmar First Aid Squad about $30,000 annually to provide emergency medical services to its residents.

In other EMS-related business, the Belmar Council also took the following action:

  • Established emergency medical services/first aid fees for 2021, including an $800 basic life support response and transport fee and $500 nonemergency transport charge. (In following past "insurance-only billing" practices, borough officials have emphasized that the EMS Division would accept as payment only what is paid by the patient’s health insurance plan, applicable insurance policy or Medicare/Medicaid.)
  • Appointed Philadelphia-based Kenneth Lavelle, M.D., as its EMS medical director — a post he held with the former Belmar First Aid Squad.
  • Entered into EMS mutual aid agreements with Neptune and Wall. 
  • Entered into agreements with Community Hospital Group Inc. of Edison for billing services and with Robert Wood Johnson Health Network for ambulance services.

Dullea said the new division has received inquiries from about seven individuals expressing interested in serving as volunteer EMTs with the new operation. The borough has created a registry for residents interested in serving as volunteer EMTs, including current EMTs or EMTs with expired credentials who are looking to obtain a valid certification. Click here to be added to the list.

In January, the 93-year-old Belmar First Aid Squad announced it would be ceasing operations due to mounting financial pressures that were compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. After the squad’s directors and borough officials could not reach an agreement to keep the squad alive, the borough decided to bring EMS operations in-house.

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