Staff photo • Mark Czajkowski
Two-year-old Matthew Schwerin sits behind the wheel of the Princeton Fire Department’s ladder truck Friday at the Princeton Jewish Center, The Fire Department visited the Jewish Center’s nursery school to present a Fire Prevention Week safety program.
This Princeton Packet
October 14, 1986
Cimino looks to Legislature for fourth county lifemobile
By Joseph Dee
The state Legislature will be asked to open its offers to fund a fourth Lifemobile for Mercer County, accord-ing to courtly Freeholder President Anthony “Skip” Cimino.
Advocates of a fourth vehicle were dealt a stinging blow last month when the state Department of Health mixed the request for another unit by the county director of the program. Officials in the Office of Emergency Health Services have said they are not opposed to a fourth Mercer unit, but that their hands are tied by red tape connected to the federal funds for the program.
Assemblyman Gerard Naples (D-Mercer) hopes to bypass the morass of federal regulations and secure state funding for the unit. Mr. Cimino said. The freeholders’ president added the Ferniest would be for $400,000 —enough to cover costs for a lifernobik, aiming and staff salaries for one year.
Repeated efforts to reach Assemblyman Naples were unsuccessful, but Mr. Cimino said he expects the legislation to be introduced soon, based on a conversation he had with the legislator last week.
“The conversation we had was that he was proposing legislation for the state of New Jersey to pick up the tab for an additional lifemobile for Mercer County.” Mr. Cimino said.
“I had sent telegrams to him and others asking for assistance in light of the fact that the federal government would not fund any more than the 60 vehicles,” Mr. Cimino said.
Of the 60 lifemobiles Mercer County is allotted three. They are stationed in Trenton. Hamilton and Princeton. Residents throughout the county, as well as municipal, county and elected state officials have decried the current allotment as inadequate. Complaints of lengthy response times have been directed to the county director, Dr. Barry Ultan at the Helene Fuld Medical Center in Trenton, He has acknowledged that the county is too large and there are too many calls for the three units to consistently provide swift service.
Mr. Cimino said that although the proposed bill would benefit only Mercer County, it has a good chance of passing. “While this bill has specificity for Mercer County, there might be other legislators who will want to do something similar down the road.
“I would say that the chances of it passing are good, in light of the fact that those in government are aware of the problem.” Mr. Cimino said “The governor recognizes that long-tens solutions are necessary.” He added that Gov. Thomas Kean might support the proposal as a shop-term remedy.
The governor is in the process of appointing a council to review the structure of emergency health services in the state and to make recommendations for long-teen improvements. But that council probably will not conclude its study and issue a final report for two years, Mr. Cimino said.
He added that he hopes the proposed bill pauses. but said if it doesn’t, the next step would be for the affected municipalities, the county and the state to negotiate an agreement to improve lifemobile service.
Assemblyman Naples legislative approach to solving this problem is unprecedented. Mr. Cimino said, but added that Hunterdon County got direct aid from the state last year through an appropriation.
He said Sen. Walter Foran (R-23rd) was instrumental in a transfer of about $350,000 in Department of Community Affairs funds to Hunterdon County bankrolls for emergency medical services.