Due to underlying issues involving Brooklawn’s volunteer ambulance service, Bellmawr EMS has been providing emergency medical services to its neighboring town since June 6.
Brooklawn’s ambulance issue was the subject of a recent article by CNBNews.net.
Because Bellmawr’s EMS is involved, SJO contacted the Borough of Bellmawr to find out the specifics of the EMS arrangement and was referred to Chief Jim Burleigh. Chief Burleigh was reached by telephone and he provided clarification about the situation.
Chief Burleigh said that in early June, he received a telephone call from Brooklawn’s Borough Clerk, Ryan Giles, asking if Bellmawr could provide ambulance service on a temporary basis.
“Brooklawn was having underlying issues with their ambulance service. Because of a Mutual Aid Agreement that is already in place through the County, Bellmawr is second due into Brooklawn. That means, if there was ever an emergency in Brooklawn and their ambulance was tied up, Bellmawr always responded,” Burleigh said.
Chief Burleigh was asked why this arrangement wasn’t brought up at any of Bellmawr’s recent council meetings or voted on. He explained that it’s not necessary.
Without going into specifics about Brooklawn’s issues, Chief Burleigh said that in general, an ambulance could be taken out of service for any number of reasons – including a flat tire or a mechanical issue. “If an ambulance is taken out of service for any reason, surrounding towns all cover each other because of that Mutual Aid Agreement. This happens quite frequently, in both fire and EMS.”
Providing additional insight, Chief Burleigh said: “This is common and does happen with fire and EMS. Recently, Westville’s ladder truck was out of service. So Bellmawr’s ladder truck was the first into Westville for two months. We didn’t have to go to council for approval because we were the next ladder in because of the Mutual Aid Agreement.”
Chief Burleigh said that Bellmawr will be providing ambulance services to Brooklawn until further notice. “Bellmawr runs about 2,300 EMS calls a year and Brooklawn has about 500. So it is a small percentage of runs.”
As for concerns that should an emergency should arise in Bellmawr while personnel provides EMS to Brooklawn, Chief Burleigh said: “If our ambulance is tied up, there will be no delay in service because of automatic backup from personnel from surrounding towns.”
Based on the Mutual Aid Agreement, any costs incurred to the Borough of Bellmawr for providing EMS services will be recovered through billing for its services, he said.