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HILLSBOROUGH: Residents warned of donating to former EMS outfit

The Robert Wood Johnson Health Network may be handling emergency medical services throughout Hillsborough Township since last summer, but a mailer from the municipality’s previous EMS provider prompted officials to warn against donating to the former outfit.

In a Dec. 29 e-mail to subscribers of the township’s digital e-news service, municipal officials said they had received a number of inquiries from residents about solicitations for donations to the Hillsborough Rescue Squad (HRS) for donations.

Though officials admitted that residents were free to donate to HRS if they so chose, the message emphasized that the organization was a private entity that was no longer affiliated with Hillsborough Township.

“As of June 2017, emergency medical services within the township are provided by Robert Wood Johnson Health Network…The only purpose of this communication is to ensure there is no confusion regarding your decision on the status of emergency medical services within Hillsborough Township,” officials said.

HRS originally started as a volunteer operation in 1955, though it eventually became a paid squad in 1988 to cover shifts that the volunteers couldn’t. That configuration remained in place until the committee, minus Committeeman Greg Burchette, voted unanimously last March in favor of awarding a five-year contract to Robert Wood Johnson.

Since the decision, residents have expressed their concern over a number of issues, including response times and a potential lack of familiarity with the community.

In response to the township’s message, HRS Chief David Gwin said the non-profit organization still “maintains buildings and equipment, provide training for members, keep insurance coverage in force, etc. with the goal of providing service.”

“The existing Hillsborough Rescue Squad has not disbanded. Township officials are well-aware that there are HRS volunteer crews ready to answer EMS calls,” Gwin said. “To this end, we sent out a year-end fundraising letter as we normally do.”

Last September, Committeeman Frank DelCore announced that plans were in the works to establish a new volunteer EMS organization in conjunction with RWJ. Though HRS used to fit that purpose, officials said they were not willing to reinstate that agreement.

“For a variety of reasons, there is no such interest for Hillsborough Rescue Squad to be that entity under its current leadership,” officials said.

Gwin said that level of unwillingness to work with HRS and its volunteers was particularly troubling.

“There is no legitimate reason to start a new agency other than the township’s refusal to work with HRS,” he said. “This is simply a continuation of the dirty politics, behind-the-scenes deal making, and hidden agendas that led to the Robert Wood Johnson takeover in June.”

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