Volunteer EMTs help cut response times in Jersey City

Brian David Platt's full-time job is the business administrator for Jersey City. That is until an alert goes off on his phone. 

"And it tells me exactly when there's a call and where it is and what type of call it is," Blatt, a volunteer EMT, said. "And I grab my gear, which is right next to me over here, and I'll head out."

Blatt volunteers with United Rescue, a program that allows civilians to respond to medical emergencies to support Jersey City Fire Department paramedics who are on the way.

"It was premised on the fact that people die all day, every day waiting for an ambulance," United Rescue Chairman Mark Gerson said. "When you're choking or having a heart attack or bleeding or suffering a stroke, you need help immediately in those golden moments that separate life from death."

Volunteers undergo an extensive 65-hour training program with many ambulance ride-along hours because many calls can be life-or-death situations, Blatt said.

Launched in 2015, United Rescue responds to about 100 calls a week. The average response time is 2½ minutes.

"The technology will recognize when there's a trained medical professional closer than an ambulance, they would route that person," Mayor Steven Fulop said. "If that person can't respond, go to the next closest person in proximity. The ambulance still arrives but that person will arrive sooner."

Knowing that time is of the essence, volunteers bike, drive or jog when responding.

"Instead of waiting minutes, critical minutes, for an ambulance to show," Blatt said, "I can be downstairs with my gear ready to go and walk upstairs in a few seconds."