New Jersey COVID
Date of Deployment: April 18, 2020
In all, 75 ambulances gathered in the Meadowlands staging area next to MetLife Stadium. As he looked at the license plates from Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, Neuwirth marveled at how an army of responders from surrounding states answered their call.
“What you see here is our EMS brothers and sisters coming together to support each other,” he said. “New Jersey is often in position to help other states. After Sandy and right now in the midst of a pandemic, it’s our time of need. The country is pulling together across the EMS communities to help us. That’s what you see here. In days, EMS professionals from across the country dropped what they were doing, left their families and came here to help us.’’
Neuwirth said the state activated its contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to receive responders to help in a crisis that has seen 54,588 cases of the coronavirus and at least 1,932 deaths in New Jersey as of Friday.
“Recognizing we’re in the midst of a pandemic, our EMS agencies in the hardest hit areas are seeing an increase in call volume and staffing shortages,” Neuwirth said. “This national EMS contract allows us to procure for 14 days basic and advanced life-support units from across the country to help support these communities that are facing challenges providing free hospital care.
“There are certain communities that have associated challenges with EMS resources. Jersey City, Newark, Elizabeth, New Brunswick — large cities that have an increased call volume on top of a staffing shortage are the communities that will be served best.’’
As he watched the ambulances pull into the staging area, Mike Bascom, the leader of the New Jersey EMS Task Force team, called it “a true pleasure to see our brothers and sisters from around the country coming to help us.’’
“We’ve actually lost four EMS providers in New Jersey, and there are an uncounted number who are ill,” Bascom said. “We all know medical providers, whether it’s EMTs, doctors, nurses and others working in the hospital, who are becoming ill or who have passed away from this. And that certainly increases the need to do this.
“I hear the war-zone references, and certainly at times, the volume is such that it’s overwhelming. But I think morale in the EMS system in New Jersey is still very good. Everyone wants to help.”