Opinion: On The EMS Issue: Do What is Best For The Taxpayer

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lakewood-emsBy E. Davidowitz, Matzav.com

Much ink has been spilled regarding the possible privatizing of Lakewood Township’s emergency medical services.

In an effort to cut costs, Lakewood, NJ, officials have said that they can save taxpayers some $800,000 a year by privatizing the Township’s EMS (Emergency Medical Services).

In 2008, the Township had to subsidize the EMS by $777,000. By privatizing these services, Lakewood will not only save between $800,000 to $1 million a year, according to the figures, but the residents will realize increased coverage and services, with no change to current billing practices.

Currently, the township has two ambulances that provide services to more than 60,000 residents in 25-square miles. With the privatization of EMS, three ambulances will be available to residents.

We are all aware of the dedicated hard-working men and women of the Lakewood EMS squad as well as the excellent job they do. This discussion has absolutely no reflection on their dedication or the quality of their work.

Friends and supporters of EMS have been doing everything they can to prevent this privatization from happening – and I can totally understand that. If my job was on the line, I would do the same.

However, that doesn’t mean that opposing the privatization of the emergency services in Lakewood is best for the residents and taxpayers.

The Township officials should do what is best for their constituents, not what is best for a specific group of emergency personnel. I don’t mean to sound cavalier, but the Township is not a job agency. It should make its decision on whether or not the current group of EMS personnel will have jobs or not. And privatizing doesn’t mean they aren’t appreciated. What it means is that it makes sense for the town. What it means is that it makes sense for those who pay sky-high property taxes to cover the ever-increasing costs of Township expenditures.

The officials’ focus must be on what is best for the local resident and the local taxpayer. Officials are in their positions to work on behalf of those who voted for them and those who pay their salaries.

Unfortunately, this has been ignored again and again in recent discussions on this topic, because the EMS supporters have waged a campaign in the media, both print and online, in an attempt to get the public to sympathize and empathize with their plight. We sympathize. We empathize. But that doesn’t mean they should get their way.

I feel bad for them if this were ever to materialize. I do. But that cannot and should not be the deciding factor in what direction the Township should take in dealing with its emergency medical services.

Bottom line: If the Township can save close to $1 million and still guarantee quality medical services through private companies, then this decision should be a no-brainer, notwithstanding whatever opposition is expressed by the EMS. Of course, the EMS personnel will contend that without them, the quality of the medical services will plummet. Of course, they will say that anyone else will not provide the same quality of service as they do. I wouldn’t expect them to say any differently. But we, the public and the Township officials, should not get caught up in the emotion of this issue, but should instead focus solely on the facts on the ground. And if the facts show that the average Lakewood resident, and the Township as a whole, has what to gain by privatizing the EMS services, then the 5-man committee, led by the esteemed Mayor Steven Langert should get it done. No tears. No yelling and screaming. Let’s do what is best for the taxpayer, not for those who lobby the loudest and with the most emotional outcry.

{Written by E. Davidowitz for Matzav.com}


  1. There are other taxpayers in town, other than you and me. They do not use Hatzalah, and they deserve quality prompt 911 service. Privatizing the EMS will cause additional strife, and will not save as advertised. I think Mayor Langert is barking up the wrong tree on this one.

  2. Adam- privatizing does not mean Hatzala! Private means the same service for Lakewood just better for the taxpayer. Whats the problem?

  3. lets not forget about the co-pays that will be charged to each resident in the event EMS are privatized! as soon as it isn’t under the township anymore, by law every patient will be charged a co-pay. if not paid it will go to collections. so it may seem privatizing is at no cost to the residents and with no change to billing but in truth there are many changes and costs to the residents.

  4. No one is interested in a business if it losing money. To say that a private ambulance company will run 3 ambulances instead of 2 and save money for the town at it does not add up. They will definately not be as qualified, as stocked, and as caring.

  5. And then they will start calling Hatzalah to avoid the co-pay, which will cost all of us, both in money and response time. This is not a good idea.

  6. The question over here is if the township should pay for EMS, or if those that use it should pay for it. If it was used by all residents, you could potentially make a case that those that use it should pay and those that do not should not. However being that EMS is mostly used by the Non-Jewish residents of this town by forcing those that use it to pay, rather than subsidizing it from the township budget will cause strife. Eventually they will figure out how to call Hatzalah to save the cost of a transport, and it will affect all of us, both with response time and money.

    How would you feel if the Board of Education privatized school bussing, and those that used it got billed, and those that did not use it will not get billed?????

  7. What about when you go on a toll road you have to pay is it ok if you pay and someone that doesent go on the road not pay?
    The answer is simple you have to pay for the services you use let it be bussing inspection department toolroads and even ems if you use it you must pay for it

  8. the reason private company could make money with giving even better service is bec they have a full biling dep that knows the ins and outs

  9. This issue highlights why we shouldn’t have frum politicians. I’m hear both sides and am not convinced as to which one is correct or even saying the truth. But one thing I do know. Those who oppose privatizing EMS feel passionately about not doing so, and will perceive this as an issue that the Frum community forced on them. It will be a terrible propaganda tools for anti Semites everywhere, so despite the potential theoretical merits of privatizing EMS I vehemently oppose doing when it is the initiative of a frum politician


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