By JOHN T. WARD
It’s MONOC to the rescue in Red Bank, at least in the near term.
Hoping to address a chronic shortage of daytime emergency volunteers, the borough’s volunteer First Aid and Rescue Squad has negotiated a two-month trial under which the nonprofit EMT operation MONOC will keep an ambulance at the Spring Street station to respond to daytime calls, officials announced Wednesday night.
As highlighted in this 2010 redbankgreen article, the Red Bank squad, which answers an average 800 calls a year, often has trouble mustering crews during the daytime. It’s longstanding problem that has led other towns to move to the costly fix of paid emergency services, or a mix of paid and unpaid.
In this case, MONOC will staff its own rig on Spring Street, and respond only to calls within the town’s borders, for two months, said Mayor Pasquale Menna. At the end of that period, MONOC and borough officials will review data and decided whether a permanent arrangement might be reached.
One question to be addressed at that point is whether to house a MONOC rig in Red Bank or a nearby town, squad officer Diana DeFazio Wieczerzak told the council.
Menna said the arrangement “is not going to cost the borough any money.”
“Free is pretty good,” said Councilman Mike DuPont.[Services may not be free to patients, though. In some situations, MONOC, as an extension of the hospital services it provides, bills patients for Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) services, as discussed on its website.]
“As easy as it’s said is as easy as it’s done,” said Councilman Art Murphy, liaison to the emergency services operations in town. “First aid is happy, the fire chiefs are happy. We’re just going to see how it rolls.”
The first aid squad is a unit of the volunteer fire department.
The trial represents a refinement of a setup that’s been in place for about 18 months, in which MONOC serves as backup to the borough-based squad, said borough Administrator Stanley Sickels. But MONOC’s rig is based in the Bayshore area of of Middletown, and is sometimes already tied up on a call when needed in Red Bank, he said.
“So this is a more focused effort,” he said. “We felt our citizens needed to have a more focused response.”