2 September 1981
letters to the editor:
Council position questioned
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter was addressed to the members of the Princeton Borough Council. It was supplied by its author.
Dear Members of Council:
Today I met a man whose life I had helped save. Last winter he had been in cardiac arrest and our Lifemobile had revived him as he lay on the floor of his home. We had a lengthy conversation. It felt good.
A short while ago, Kevin Kelty and I received notice that the paid daytime coverage by Princeton Lifemobile would end Sept. 25 for lack of borough support. That didn’t feel so good.
Several thoughts have come to mind and I would like to share them with you.
1. __ Princeton Borough has been getting excellent 24-hour advanced and basic life support coverage while paying only $12,000 a year. There are only four certified paramedics in the Princeton Squad, two who are paid and two who are solely volunteers. I, a paid person, answered as many calls in my off-duty hours (without pay) in the first six months of 1981 as I did during my paid hours (a combined total of 353 calls for the six- month period). Who is going to take up the slack if my partner and I are forced to leave the area to continue in our chosen profession?
2. — It has been suggested that the squad support the paid personnel out of its regular fund drive income. The squad is just able to meet its operating expenses exclusive of salaries with its current fund raising activities. Where is the additional money to be raised? (David Guerzini’s wonderful, public-spirited fireworks display to benefit the paramedic program raised less than $900 at a cost to him of about $2500!)
3. — It has been suggested that we charge for our service. Would the squad’s volunteers continue to serve if the squad were billing patients? Several members have stated that they would not. If the volunteers desert, what would it cost to provide 24-hour coverage? Is the squad to charge only for daytime calls, thus encouraging perhaps critically ill people to delay their treatment until evening when the volunteers are available; or will they use some other mode of transportation putting themselves at greater risk? Would the squad be able to raise the bulk of its operating expenses by voluntary contributions if the community viewed it as a pay-as-you-go operation? Who is to handle the billing/collection business if the squad charges for its service? At what additional expense?
4. — If the paid daytime coverage is terminated, not only the borough citizens will suffer. If the Borough Council refuses to appropriate its original one-third share of personnel expenses, its citizens and those of the township, who contribute two-thirds of the cost, will received slower, less skilled, less certain service.
I find council’s position hard to understand as do many people with whom I have spoken.
Diran (Joe) Dermen, Paramedic
Princeton First Aid
and Rescue Squad