It's been almost two years since the township excluded them from receiving emergency calls, and (SJEMS) isn't taking it anymore.
Instead, they're taking their case directly to Woodbridge residents.
The Fords-based first aid squad is making an appeal on their website for help in bringing the squad back to life.
"In the coming weeks, this website will be updated to let you know what you can do to assist us in our efforts at being restored to full service. This endeavor will take a significant commitment from those of you who have assisted us in the past and those who feel the need to help us now," said St. John's president Joseph F. Heintjes on the site.
The 65-year-old all-volunteer squad had been forced to shut its doors after the town council vote in 2009 to stop St. John's from receiving any emergency calls routed through the township's 911 system. The move was made because of issues with squad coverage and problems with ambulances the Linden First Aid Squad, which covered the day shift for St. John's, had in transporting patients, said Council President James Carroll.
"[The Linden EMS] got lost one night with a patient," Carroll said. "It was an untenable situation."
Heintjes, for his part, believed the reason St. John's cut off was as a means of trying to force a merger with the much larger (WTARS).
"When merger plans were met with resistance from the residents...did the township instead impose a lock-out which in essence barred SJEMS from responding to any further 911 requests," Heintjes said.
According to Heintjes, negotiations were resumed again in June of this year, but lagged while the administration of Mayor John McCormac was busy reaching a settlement with the (ACFAS), which reopened in May. That agreement allowed that embattled first aid squad to resume getting emergency calls, albeit with a paid township manager on site to oversee all ACFAS operations.
Meanwhile, the St. John's talks were getting nowhere, Heintjes said. "It soon became apparent the talks were nothing more than a ruse," he said, a means of the township administration giving the impression they were serious about restoring the squad to service.
Unlike the problems with the Avenel Colonia squad, Heintjes said St. John's "had never been accused of any impropriety." Even so, the St. John's board said they would agree to let the township install a paid manager - as they had at ACFAS - to oversee the squad's day-to-day affairs, Heintjes said.
After the reactivation ACFAS, Heintjes said he proposed in October a schedule that would "ramp up" the St. John's squad to full duty by January 1, 2012.
That offer, he said, "was flatly rejected."
That was when the St. John's team "was left with no choice" but to break off negotiations and walk away, and make a direct appeal to township residents.
Carroll disagreed. "If anyone stopped St. John's from operating, it was St. John's," he said.
"I would love for St. John's to be in operation. I was involved in keeping them open, getting them money, but they wouldn't cooperate. They wouldn't compromise on anything," said Carroll, who had served on the initial negotiation team when the squad was first shuttered. "They balked at everything we tried to do."
Money the squad says they are still owed is another issue. According to Heintjes, St. John's hasn't received the $70,000 total of taxpayer funding appropriated for the squad for 2008 and 2009, "for services rendered," he said.
"I find that that hard to believe. They must not have turned over their financial records as they are required to do," Carroll said. "I don't believe we owe them a dime."