By Ben Simmoneau
GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) – Gloucester Township, New Jersey fired its ambulance service provider Tuesday after an inspection found five ambulances unregistered; two were uninspected.
State inspectors also found several code violations with onboard ambulance equipment. However, officials would not elaborate further.
Township officials say the vehicle problems are just the latest of a series of concerns they’ve had with the Gloucester
Township EMS Alliance, the nonprofit ambulance company. The EMS Alliance has provided the township’s ambulance service for about the past decade, but effective at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Kennedy Health Systems became the township’s ambulance provider.
During the day on Tuesday, Gloucester Township relied on fire personnel and ambulances from neighboring towns.
“The day to day management of this non profit organization is not only lacking but is in disarray,” said Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer. “I don’t have confidence in the management of the EMS alliance.”
The mayor says he first became concerned about management of the EMS Alliance when he heard they were not paying federal payroll taxes. Mayor Mayer said the township has asked repeatedly for a financial audit of the non-profit Alliance, but those requests have gone nowhere.
“We have tried to work with them to make them a viable organization,” he said.
The Alliance’s management says this is all over a political feud.
“There was no need for what they did besides political reasons,” said EMS Alliance Chief Thomas Eden. “That’s a shame for the residents of Gloucester Township, I really feel bad for them.”
Eden says the tax issue was the fault of a previous accountant and has been sorted out. He says the registration and inspection problem was a paperwork error. He says he mailed the appropriate paperwork to the state, but he did not receive the tags. The state confirmed two of the Alliance’s ambulances were available for service by Tuesday afternoon, however they had nowhere to go since the township fired the Alliance.
Eden says Kennedy Health Systems will not provide as many ambulances as his Alliance could and says it might cost township taxpayers more. Fifteen full time EMS Alliance employees and 30 part time workers will likely lose their jobs if the Alliance shuts down.