Gloucester Township Republicans are none too happy with Mayor David Mayer for severing the township's relationship with non-profit Gloucester Township EMS Alliance.
GOP leaders are also concerned about what the decision could mean for the future of ambulance service in the township—specifically to taxpayers' purses and wallets.
In a scathing statement released by the Gloucester Township Republican Municipal Committee as the dust was still settling following the township's banishment of the EMS Alliance, party chairman Ray Polidoro described the decision as "disturbing and chilling."
"This is an outrage, a staggering abuse of power,” Polidoro said in the statement, his sentiments directed at Mayer. "When did the Constitution become obsolete and a police state take its place?"
Mayer and Gloucester Township Police Chief W. Harry Earle announced at a press conference Tuesday that an inspection conducted Tuesday morning at Gloucester Township EMS Alliance's Erial station house revealed that five ambulances and a sport-utility vehicle were unregistered and two ambulances had not passed required inspections.
A state Department of Health spokeswoman indicated one of the ambulances had been unregistered since March.
Following the surprise inspection, the state put each EMS Alliance ambulance out of service on a temporary basis until the motor-vehicle and inspection violations were cleared up.
Republicans are now openly questioning whether Tuesday's move was made to eventually clear the way for ambulance service in the township under the control of Cooper University Hospital, which is headed by South Jersey Democratic Party boss George Norcross.
Kennedy Health System assumed control of EMS operations in the township at 6 p.m. Tuesday—roughly 10 hours after Gloucester Township EMS Alliance was told its services were no longer wanted. Kennedy, which has a hospital in nearby Stratford, will have two ambulances serving Gloucester Township on a 24/7 basis, with a third available during peak hours, officials said at the press conference.
As Gloucester Township EMS Alliance did, Kennedy will be billing patients for ambulance rides, not working under a contract for EMS services with the township, officials noted.
For his part, Gloucester Township EMS Alliance Chief Tom Eden Sr. said he is concerned about what will become of the 45 paid EMS personnel that work for him. He indicated Tuesday he offered to resign if it meant sparing the ambulance service's relationship with the township and his employees keeping their jobs.
Mayer "stated specifically he had no problem with the 45 employees. His problem was with me," Eden said on Wednesday during a telephone interview.
Now, Eden says he's scrambling to find contracts for the ambulance service he started back in 2000.
The state had cleared all Gloucester Township EMS Alliance ambulances to return to service by the time Patch spoke with Eden Wednesday, the longtime EMS chief said.
Republicans decried Mayer's decision as one made over "a technical issue regarding vehicle registrations."
Mayer, who did not return a message left with his office Wednesday afternoon seeking comment on Polidoro's "abuse of power" statement, indicated Tuesday the lapsed registrations were just the final straw for his administration. He cited repeated requests for financial and organizational documents that would assure officials the EMS Alliance was in good standing that went unheeded.
Mayer described the EMS Alliance's management as being in "disarray."