The Princeton Packet
Keep spirit of volunteerism alive for first aid squad
Princeton prides itself in its spirit of volunteerism, but that self image is suffering just a bit these days as the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad has raised the possibility that it might need paid personnel to provide emergency services during the daytime.
If Princeton has to begin paying for this work, the pain will be to pocketbook as well as to pride, of course, but there is more involved than the money. The question becomes one of whether Princeton wants to turn that corner away from its more personal, community service orientation toward paid service. Such a move could have implications beyond the aid squad.
Rather than taking the “professionalism” step at this point, a better course of action would be to step up recruiting efforts in/ the direction surrounding communities have been going for years now – toward public spirited women volunteers.
Women have proven to be valuable members of squads in West Windsor, East Windsor, Montgomery and other towns, especially for daytime coverage. But use of women has come more slowly in Princeton, perhaps as a result of the long legal battle involved not too many years ago in opening the doors to the first female member. Those doors are now open but the rush to enter has not been overwhelming.
A concentrated campaign to reach women and tell them they are now welcome would be appropriate in any case. In light of the daytime staffing problem the effort would be particularly in order.
A number of ideas have also been discussed in regard to improving the squad’s efficiency. Help from the municipalities in areas such as joint dispatching would seem to be a sound idea. Management training to help the squad in preparing and staying within a budget would also be a plus.
But when it comes to the use of general taxation to subsidize standard operating expenses, as has also been suggested, both the squad and the towns should go slowly. Putting tax money directly into the squad’s operating budget would be a fatal blow to the organization’s independence — one that would undoubtedly result in a further dimming of the volunteer spirit.