Monday, May 14, 2012

Assembly Panel Advances Coughlin, Prieto & Green Bill to Better Help Residents with Special Needs During Emergencies

            (TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig J. Coughlin, Vincent Prieto and Jerry Green that would aid emergency responders and special needs residents by authorizing municipalities to create a list of residents requiring special assistance during an emergency.
            “There is no room for surprises during an emergency. The more responders know, the better they’ll be able to assist those who need help,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Providing emergency personnel with advanced information about residents who require special assistance will ensure these residents receive the care they need quicker and more thoroughly when an emergency arises.”
            “Time makes all the difference when responding to a crisis. Knowing about a person’s specific needs before responding to an emergency helps our emergency responders better serve these residents,” said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Not every emergency will be a matter of life and death, but when it is, you want those charged with helping you to be able to do so, as effectively as possible.”
            “When you’re responding to an emergency, the last thing you need is more hurdles. The work of police and firefighters is already stressful. This list would help make their jobs a little easier, and give these residents the peace of mind that in the case of an emergency, their needs will have been taken into account well before help shows up at the door,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union)
            The bill (A-1250) authorizes a municipal governing body, by ordinance, to require the municipal clerk to create and maintain a list of municipal residents who identify themselves as being in need of special assistance in the event of an emergency, for public safety purposes.
            The list maintained by the clerk would contain the name, address and special circumstance of each municipal resident who is identified as needing special assistance in the event of an emergency. The list would be cross-indexed by name and address of each resident requesting to be on the list. 
            The clerk would provide a copy of the list solely to the municipal police department, to each fire department or fire district serving the municipality, and to each first aid or rescue squad serving the municipality, and update the list monthly, strictly for the purposes of the bill.
            A notice to municipal residents advising them that such a list is being maintained by the clerk would be included annually with the tax bills mailed to local property taxpayers, and would include information as to how a municipal resident may add his or her name and address to the municipal list.
            The municipal clerk would notify each landlord who has filed a certificate of registration with the municipality pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1974, c.50 (C.46:8-28) of the existence of the list, and would also provide the landlord with a copy of the notice to be forwarded to tenants, including information as to how a tenant may be added to the municipal list. Within 30 days following notification by the municipal clerk and upon the creation of a tenancy thereafter, a landlord would be required to advise each tenant of the existence of the list, and provide a copy of the notice from the clerk.  The Commissioner of Community Affairs would be required to promulgate a model notice.
            The bill was released by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

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