TRENTON, NJ - A bill establishing a central registry of people with special needs so that first responders can better serve them during an emergency has passed the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
“Minutes can mean the difference between a life saved and a life lost. A central registry allows police officers, firefighters or EMS workers to plan ahead for how to provide the best and most expedient care possible to a person with special needs,” said the sponsor, Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-16)
. “Some towns have already set up local registries that are used during natural disasters, medical emergencies, or when a person with special needs goes missing. We need to make sure every emergency unit Statewide has access to this lifesaving information,” he added.
The proposal requires the Office of Emergency Telecommunications Services (OETS) to establish a central registry of residents with special needs who require additional or unique assistance during an emergency. Registration would be voluntary; and could be completed by the disabled resident, or their family, friend or caregiver.
Each municipal, county, and regional police department, fire department, and emergency service organization would be given a list of registered residents who reside in that jurisdiction. In addition, the NJ Office of Emergency Management may access the central registry to prepare an Emergency Operations Plan.
The bill would also require the OETS to conduct a public awareness campaign to ensure disabled residents and their loved ones are aware of this opportunity.