Overburdened Vernon Township ambulance squad volunteers will get some relief thanks to a new agreement between the the Town and the Saint Clare's ambulance service.

The Township Council on Monday approved a resolution to allow Saint Clare's to provide basic life support (BLS) ambulance services in town part time during the week. Business Administrator Charles Voelker indicated the move will give the township's existing emergency medical services volunteers some breathing room by providing coverage during their hardest-to-staff hours.

According to Voelker, Saint Clare's will assign an ambulance to Vernon Township Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Saint Clare's ambulance will be stationed at either the Vernon Township Ambulance Squad or Glenwood-Pochuck Ambulance Squad building and will not be pulled out during those times for mutual aid in other towns. Saint Clare's will also have the ability to provide a second ambulance through mutual aid when an additional rig is required.

Voelker said the township also explored an arrangement with Atlantic Health System, but reported Atlantic could guarantee neither a dedicated ambulance nor the ability to supply an additional one should the need arise.

“Similar to other communities in this area and throughout the state, (the Vernon Township Ambulance Squads) were having a significant amount of difficulty in having enough volunteers to provide the emergency medical services consistently in this municipality. They suggested we start looking for alternatives as soon as possible and I promised them we would do that,” Voelker commented. “The most important thing is that the residents of Vernon get the best care as quickly as possible.”

Per the agreement, Saint Clare's services will be offered at no cost to the town; instead, Saint Clare's will seek reimbursement from patients' insurance companies and will not pursue payments from the township in the event of a patient's failure to pay.

The resolution was passed with immediate effect, but Voelker said Saint Clare's will likely begin coverage in Vernon on Wednesday.