To the Editor:
Prior comments to the Editor and articles as recently as the May 26 edition of the Herald covering the Lower Township May 17 council meeting have highlighted the widespread concerns that Diamond Beach residents have for what they consider are unacceptable emergency medical services provided by Lower Township to the Diamond Beach area.
Due to the high concentration of second homes, townhouses and condos close to this popular beach area, the population swells from the low hundreds in the off-season to several thousand during the summer season.
Residents feel that the emergency medical services of Lower Township are ill-equipped to service this distant area from their base in the Villas. A documented history shows an increasing delay in ambulance response times.
At the May 17 council meeting, two resolutions were approved for the supplemental services of the Inspira Medical Services initially costing $36,000 to provide additional medical ambulance service to Lower Township.
Little detail was provided for these resolutions. Several council members did acknowledge they had concerns for several years over medical service coverage for the township including Diamond Beach.
Mayor Sippel asked for any comments from the public over these resolutions. In response to the Mayor’s invitation, James Sanford, a Diamond Beach resident, who is also the President of the Diamond Beach Citizens Action Group with 200 active members, commented that he has been coming to the meetings in person (since the township discontinued having virtual meetings in spite of the state Department of Community Affairs issuing instructions for how to have virtual town meetings) for the past 10 months and has raised concerns over the EMS to Diamond Beach.
Mr. Sanford, who has been outspoken about the slow ambulance response times to Diamond Beach, asked where were these additional services going to be based, in particular, would an ambulance be based in or near Diamond Beach? None of the council members including the Diamond Beach ward 3 council person, Roland Roy, would answer that simple question.
Mayor Sippel, in keeping with the self-imposed practice that the council would not answer any questions from the public, asked a question in return “Is that a question or a comment?” Mr. Sanford responded that it would have to be a comment about where this ambulance would be housed since the council wouldn’t allow him to ask a question.
Mr. Sanford recounted that he asked the township manager on the previous Thursday about any updates to emergency medical agreements and he received no answer.
“I just want to know where this ambulance service will be based, will it be in Diamond Beach?” said Mr. Sanford.
Mayor Sippel who apparently was keeping time while Mr. Sanford voiced his safety concerns, interrupted and announced, “You have 30 seconds” (of a restrictive 3 minutes allotted time for each public speaker). Mr. Sanford, standing in front of the silent council members, graciously offered the Mayor to keep his 30 seconds.
In conclusion, the public can only surmise that the township is paying an initial $36,000 for an ambulance that is homeless apparently. Should Diamond Beach residents start a “go fund me” site to help raise funds for a home for this homeless ambulance?
Interestingly, a second township resident spoke his concerns about safety on Bay Avenue over a recent pedestrian casualty. He asked, “What can be done to make this road safer?” “Could the manager contact him to discuss some suggestions he had for the road?” To which both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor responded with “The answer is…”