Ho-Ho-Kus November 11, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • Page 7 Councilman seeks ways to aid busy ambulance corps by Jennifer Crusco Returning to the council’s September discussion of the borough’s under-manned ambulance corps, Ho-Ho-Kus Councilman Kevin Crossley recently pledged, “We’re going to continue with this until we find a solution.” Crossley recently suggested the borough look into establishing a shared services agreement to aid the Ho-Ho-Kus Ambulance Corps, which currently has just nine members. At the last council meeting, Crossley noted that Ho-Ho-Kus currently allows HoHo-Kus Borough Clerk Laura Borchers, and multiple department of public works employees to clock out to respond to ambulance calls during regular work hours. “We pull people off-line to take calls,” Crossley said. The councilman said he had come across a program that allows other municipalities to enter into contracts for the joint provision of ambulance services on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., when local volunteers are less readily available. “It’s a thought,” Crossley said of a mutual aid agreement with other local towns. “Obviously, we have to do something soon.” He pointed out that Ho-Ho-Kus has discussed billing other towns for responding to ambulance calls, but has received no responses. Crossley praised the borough’s dedicated staff, adding, “Eventually, it has to be fair.” Crossley provided Villadom TIMES with a copy of the document that had caught his attention. The item is an ordinance that proposed the establishment of a shared services agency to provide emergency services to Bound Brook, Manville, Raritan, Somerville, South Bound Brook, and Bridgewater. That document states that the first aid squads in some of those municipalities had been experiencing difficulties in responding to calls during weekdays, when a limited number of volunteers are available. In a recent interview, Crossley noted that a similar type of agreement would not supplant the Ho-Ho-Kus Ambulance Corps, but could provide a supplement. At the September council session, Ho-Ho-Kus Ambulance Corps President Carol Tyler suggested the borough might have to begin charging for services the volunteer organization provides to other towns. At that time, Tyler noted that the mutual aid agreement among local municipalities’ ambulance corps is unwritten. She said some other municipalities had been abusing the mutual aid system, and recommended that the borough follow through on an earlier recommendation to charge for service provided to other towns. During the September meeting, Tyler said she believes the volunteer ambulance corps can handle Ho-Ho-Kus, but is experiencing a problem with mutual aid, as approximately 30 percent of the organization’s calls come from out of town. Last week, Tyler told Villadom TIMES that it is critical that people in Ho-Ho-Kus -- and in the neighboring communities -- volunteer. “Our people keep going out of town because other towns can’t get the help,” she said, adding that any formal mutual aid agreement must be equitable. “If people realized how much of an effect they can have just by joining, more people would join. One person can change the balance,” Tyler stressed, noting that the availability of one additional person can mean the difference between an ambulance corps being able to send a crew to an emergency or having to call out for assistance. She revealed that, after the September discussion about the staffing situation, Councilman Gordon Hamm had signed up for the corps, adding, “We need more. To all those people who are waiting to join: There will never be a perfect time to join. Save a life now,” she added. Anyone interested in learning more about becoming an ambulance corps member should leave a message for Tyler in care of Christina Tyler at Ho-Ho-Kus Borough Hall, (201) 652-4400. Seven years ago, borough voters approved the plan known as VIP: the volunteer incentive program. The program covers firefighters and ambulance corps personnel. 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