New program looks to help with EMS volunteer shortage in Monmouth County

Seconds count during an emergency, especially when an ambulance and trained EMTs are needed.
To help improve response times among declining volunteers in Monmouth County, Sheriff Shaun Golden started a new regional fleet known as Med Star. The program rolled out on Wednesday, with four ambulances and 44 newly hired full-time EMTs at the ready.
“We had over 100,000 calls for service in the county last year and our goal is to assist the volunteers and paid professionals in reducing response times and provide the best patient care that we can,” said Golden.
The number of both volunteer and paid EMTs continues to drop, according to Monmouth County EMS Coordinator Michael Bascom.
“Pre-COVID there were probably 22,000 EMTs in the state of New Jersey, post-COVID that number is 19,000, so you’re losing EMTs while the call volume is skyrocketing,” said Bascom.
Monmouth County invested $5 million in the creation of Med Star. Some of that money will be reimbursed through patients’ insurance plans.
“You never know at what point anywhere in the county - we call it “popping off” - where all of a sudden we have a cluster of calls coming in,” added newly hired Monmouth County Paramedic Supervisor Robert McLaughlin. “People leaving the city to come down here. Tinton Falls is a booming town. We have a lot of new structures going up every day. That doesn’t necessarily increase the number of people willing to volunteer.”
Monmouth County just purchased the old firehouse located on the grounds of Fort Monmouth. It will serve as the headquarters for the new ambulances. Full-time crews will patrol surrounding towns like Tinton Falls, Colts Neck and Oceanport.
Crystal Karlsberg lives in one of those growing Tinton Falls developments.
“I think it’s good because it will help others in need that might need a faster response in the community,” said Karlsberg.
“Attracting people in the field is being visible. A lot of times we don’t have ambulances available to do standbys or go to schools and talk to people. That’s something we are going to work on, being visible in our communities and helping people get involved in something that’s truly wonderful,” added McLaughlin.
Plans call for additional hires and more ambulances to be added to the fleet to help serve the underrepresented areas of Monmouth County in the coming months.