Some of you may remember this picture from school:Join, or Die is a famous political cartoon created by Benjamin Franklin and first published in his Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. The original publication by the Gazette is the earliest known pictorial representation of colonial union produced by a British colonist in America. It is a woodcut showing a snake severed into eighths, with each segment labeled with the initials of a British American colony or region. New England was represented as one segment, rather than the four colonies it was at that time. In addition, Delaware and Georgia were omitted completely. Thus, it has 8 segments of snake rather than the traditional 13 colonies. The cartoon appeared along with Franklin's editorial about the "disunited state" of the colonies, and helped make his point about the importance of colonial unity. During that era, there was a superstition that a snake which had been cut into pieces would come back to life if the pieces were put together before sunset.
Now that the history lesson is over, in a way history does repeat itself. This time the volunteer squads are now under attack. This article explains what is going on in Morris County:
This isn't limited to Morris either, this has been slowly happening all across our state, and MONOC, Atlantic, Quality, and the slew of other private ambulance companies couldn't be happier.
I can't say I blame these town councils either. All day long I listen to these squads going to 3rd alert, mutual aid, that goes to 3rd alert. 30 minutes later you finally get an ambulance on scene. The fact is that people are just not around during the day and even evening like they were 10-15 years ago.
However in my opinion, the blame for this mess lies soley on the leadership of the volunteer squads. Here is a handful of reasons:
a) Squads tend to be clique-ish. Usually there are 2 or 3 groups. If you aren't in the popular group, the rules are different for you.
b) There is always a power struggle. Whoever is in charge does whatever they need to stay in charge. This includes driving out other members and working the by laws to restrict who can vote and who can't.
c) Member drives are generally non existant with most squads.
d) There is WAY too much drama in the squads.
and finally my favorite:
d) Men and Women don't mix well in this kind of environment. You have husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, ex husbands and ex wives, girlfriend and girlfriend, her husband and his wife. You get the picture. I am currently involved in my 3rd volunteer squad and I have seen it all, and it eventually winds back up to item a, b or d.
For the most part, you don't see this type of thing in the Fire Service. Some companies do have their issues as well, but NOTHING compared to what you see in EMS. That is why you see so much turnover.
So back to the point of this blog. For the volunteer squads to survive, they need to move to plan B, and quickly.
Plan B: Squads need to start merging and create regional squads. This would Save money by needing less equipment and stations, and it would give you a larger group of people to work with.
A good example is where I live, Franklin Twp. Rescue (56), Greenwich Rescue (98) and Lopatcong Rescue (74), all should merge into 1 regional squad. 56 is a mess right now, and the other 2 aren't far behind. 56 is in such a critical state, that if they don't do something in the next 6 months, I would not be surprised to see Washington Boro to start taking daytime coverage in Franklin. Another example is Oxford & Belvidere. They are already on dual alert for half the day as it is, it is time to merge.
In my opinion it will save the squads....or if nothing else, put them in a much better position than they currently are, and it does sound like good common sense doesn't it. Lets face it though, the leadership of these squads will probably never let themselves be put in a position of losing power and would rather go down with the ship, rather than to save the squad by merging.
My last thought on this. Where the hell is the NJ First Aid Council on all this? Maybe someone can explain to me what exactly they do anyway, except have meetings and take money. I have been involved in EMS on and off for nearly 20 years and I still don't have any idea what purpose they serve. I sure don't see them helping anything here. They should be fighting EMS privatization tooth and nail.