11 July 1979
Borough Grants First Aid Squad Partial Support But Expects Township and Hospital to Help Also
“The Squad just wants us to give some signal of committment,” explained Borough Mayor Robert W. Cawley to Thursday night’s council agenda meeting.
Council did, unanimously, but only after a crucial word, “partially,” was inserted at the request of Council member Charles Cornforth to limit the degree of support the Squad could expect from the Borough.
The First Aid and Rescue Squad’s own annual budget is $32,500. That’s about $16,000 for the rest of this year. Mr. Cornforth said firmly that he wanted it divided with the Township on a rateables basis — under which the Borough would pay about one-third – not in a 50-50 split.
The Squad’s report is on the agenda of Township Committee for this Wednesday’s meeting.
“Long range, the responsibility for the Squad’s daytime 9-5 shift is the hospital’s.” Mr. Cornforth declared. “The hospital cannot just sit back and shrug it off as somebody else’s. It should not shirk its daytime responsibility. The hospital collects a lot of money from this town.”
“That’s an extraordinary expenditure we’d have to pass on to the consumer,” replied Dennis Doody, executive vice- president of the Medical Center. “Then we’d have to provide daytime coverage for the other communities whose rescue squads we also serve.”
“We are the host of the Medical Center and Princeton bears all the hospital’s traffic,” Borough Mayor Robert W. Cawley retorted, “Jack Kauffman (the hospital’s president) knows how the Planning Board feels about what Princeton has contributed.”
Full-Time Personnel. The key element in the discussion was the hiring of full-time trained personnel who would respond to daytime calls. They would need 600 hours of special training.
Borough Police Chief Michael Carnevale announced that he was prepared to offer two officers from 9 to 5 Mondays through Fridays until a budget was worked out, but his offer wasn’t greeted with much enthusiasm.
“It has complex implications,” said Squad president Joe Derman cautiously, referring to insurance and legal problems. Chief Carnevale bristled when Allan Haskins, chairman of the Ninth District of the New Jersey First Aid Council and Mr. Derman both warned that qualification was a vital factor.
“We have people who are qualified,” Chief Carnevale said shortly.
Who Pays? Who would pay the salaries of full-time paramedics and whose employees would they be?
There was sentiment for asking the hospital to hire them to work 60 percent of the time, and 40 percent for the Squad, but Mr. Doody demurred: “I can’t staff an Emergency Room with 60 percent of a person,” he said.
Since an eight-hour day isn’t filled every day with emergencies, what would the paramedics do with their spare time? Telephone surveys for Opinion Research, suggested Mayor Cawley, half-seriously.
Cap limits imposed on budgets by the state, may make it impossible for Borough or Township to be the employer, it was explained, but Mr. Haskins suggested that new line items might be free of caps and Mr. Derman remarked that the law allows the public to decide through referendum whether an item should be included in the budget.
Mayor Cawley said he was more worried about the effect on the tax rate than on exceeding the budget cap. Council members Martin P. Lombardo and Leona Medvin suggested that other agencies – such as Shade Tree Commission and Recreation — might have to see their budgets trimmed to provide parings for the First Aid Squad.
After the two-hour discussion, it was decided that the Squad’s citizen committee would talk with Squad members about Chief Carnevale’s offer and would investigate other sources of money like CETA, for paramedic salaries.