Do you value the free, often life-saving service volunteers provide to the community of Berkeley Heights? Have you ever had to call for an ambulance in an emergency, or know a loved one who dialed 9-1-1 in the middle of the night? If you answered “yes” then, please support a LOSAP program for the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad (BHVRS) by voting “Yes” on the ballot question on November 5th – Election Day.
LOSAP is a Length of Service Award Program that offers financial rewards, based upon longevity of service to the community, mainly to emergency services volunteers in communities across the country. LOSAP can provide significant cost savings to municipalities that would otherwise have to pay salaries and benefits for full-time emergency responders. The pension-like program is also intended to assist emergency service organizations in the recruitment and retention of members.
For the volunteers of the BHVRS, this LOSAP program would help cover out-of-pocket expenses such as fuel, auto expenses, and seasonal clothing.
Nationwide, the number of volunteers is at a 20-year low; more than 70 percent of volunteers quit within five years. For every 10 new recruits, less than three will stay on long enough to get the proper training and experience to become full productive members.
Here in Berkeley Heights, a group of only 15 regular members at the BHVRS provides coverage for a town of more than 13,400 people, including a five-mile stretch of Route 78. Last year, we responded to more than 800 calls, including medical emergencies, falls, and motor vehicle accidents.
Without the BHVRS, an out-of-town EMS provider would be needed to respond to emergency calls. Any new, non-local ambulance service would have significantly higher costs and slower response times than our current in-town volunteer crew.
Approving LOSAP shows that you value the free service volunteers provide to the community – a service that quite literally saves the lives of many in our community. If you vote “Yes” to establish a LOSAP for the Rescue Squad, the estimated cost of the program for the first year (2020), which includes credit for one year of qualifying service, is $3.94 per household. The estimated cost of the program for the second and subsequent years is $1.97 per household.
Who benefits from LOSAP?
● The community—Implementing a LOSAP can provide significant savings to municipalities that may otherwise pay for-profit or county providers.
● Your EMS provider—EMS agencies utilizing LOSAP have more experienced members, which enables them to become more highly skilled. The increased retention of members helps reduce both stress and burden on the volunteer system.
● Individual residents – By implementing LOSAP, the BHVRS can better attract and retain emergency volunteers, which means more medical help will be available to respond when you need them.