Air Medical Services

JEMSTAR, the New Jersey Emergency Medical Services Helicopter Response Program, is a joint New Jersey Department of Health/New Jersey State Police program established by the Legislature (N.J.S.A 26-2K-35-et seq) to provide rapid emergency transport and care for trauma patients in New Jersey. This program is operated by the Department of Health (NJDOH), Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Department of Law and Public Safety New Jersey State Police, and through NJDOH grant, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Virtua Health. This grant is up for bid every 3 years.

The JEMSTAR program was initiated in July 1988 and is funded through State Budget Appropriation Language: There are appropriated from the New Jersey Emergency Medical Service Helicopter Response Program Fund such sums as are necessary to pay the reasonable and necessary expenses of the operation of the New Jersey Emergency Medical Service Helicopter Response Program in the form of a surcharge on all motor vehicle registrations, established pursuant to P.L.1986, c.106 (C.26:2K-35 et seq.), subject to the approval of the Director of Budget and Accounting.

The surcharge on the vehicle registration is $4; $3 of which goes to JEMSTAR for capital and operational costs; the remaining $1 goes to the New Jersey State Police for training purposes.

Operational employment of JEMSTAR provides northern and southern based operations, although there is no formal division of north and south boundaries. NorthSTAR covers the northern portion of the State. It is medically staffed by University Hospital in Newark and based at Somerset Airport in Bedminster, NJ. The medical direction is provided by the Level I trauma center located at University Hospital in Newark.

SouthSTAR was operational from the inception of the program through June 30, 2016. The DOH did not receive any grant applications for SouthSTAR in State Fiscal Year 2017. SouthSTAR was located at Hammonton Municipal Airport in Hammonton, NJ and covered the state’s southern area. The medical component of SouthSTAR was provided by the Mobile Intensive Care Unit department of Virtua Health, with medical direction for trauma patients provided by the Level I trauma center located at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center in Camden.

Currently, the New Jersey State Police use five medically configured Agusta Westland AW-139 helicopters, one on-call, and four serving as back-up. The helicopters are owned, piloted and maintained by the New Jersey State Police, Aviation Unit, which is responsible for the oversight of the program’s aviation operations. NJDOH is responsible for the oversight and management of JEMSTAR’s medical services.

In addition to the state funded air medical system (JEMSTAR), in 2005 NJDOH began licensing in-state based air medical units operated by private air ambulance companies. The Department currently licenses twelve air medical programs, eight of which are based in New Jersey.

The Regional Emergency Communications System (REMCS) at University Hospital in Newark, NJ serves as the state’s designated lead communications center for dispatching and management of New Jersey’s air medical resources. This mission is accomplished through the partnership between jurisdictional 9-1-1 call-centers and REMCS.



Last Reviewed: 10/5/2017