Ruling is due soon on 4th Mercer lifemobile

10 August, 1986 (~estimated)

Ruling is due soon on 4th Mercer lifemobile

By Joseph Dee
Staff Writer

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP — The commissioner of the state Department of health may get a final recommendation concerning a fourth Mercer, County Lifemobile on her desk within a month.

Molly Coyle is waiting for a report from the Off ice of Emergency Health Services before she rules on an additional Mobile Intensive Care Unit which Hopewell Valley officials and the lifemobile program director see as crucial for adequate emergency service.

Roy Nichols, the director of Emergency Health Services, said he will issue his recommendation to Dr.Coyle within two weeks of receiving additional information from Barry Ultan, who heads the lifemobile program.

“We’ll probably make a recommendation within two weeks of receiving the data. Until we receive that information, we can’t complete our evaluation.” Mr.Nichols said.

He said the additional data concerns call volume and the number of calls that the three lifemobiles could not respond to.

Dr.Ultan, who heads the program from the Helene Fuld Medical Center in Trenton, said Mr.Nichols will have the information he requested in about a week.

“We are preparing an additional; packet of data to support our proposal. The packet should be out in about a week,” Dr. Ultan said. “The call volume and the area we have to cover certainly justifies (a fourth vehicle).

The county Board of Freeholders is expected to pass a resolution in support of the push for a fourth lifemobile at its meeting tonight, Tuesday, according to Freeholder President Anthony Cimino.

“The call volume went up when we added the third vehicle and I’m sure it will go up more with a fourth MICU. The data will be solid — though I don’t know what the politics is at the other end, ” Dr.Ultan said.

Mark Reading, lifemobile program director, said the Department of Health considers a number of variables in determining a county’s allotment of lifemobiles.

“The call volume and the physical characteristics of the territory are looked at. Population bases and age groups are also considered,” Mr.Reading said. He said how a population is settled —  whether in an urban, suburban or rural environment — affects response times.

Mercer Country is currently served by three paramedic staffed advanced-life support ambulances. The units are stationed in Trenton, Hamilton and Princeton.

Hopewell Valley officials maintain that service has been poor, with lengthy response times exacerbated by drivers who do not know the streets and roads.

Dr. Ultan admitted at a meeting with Hopewell Valley mayors in early May that response times have not always been up to expectations. He urged the mayors to work with him and enlist the support of state officials for a fourth vehicle.

Officials in East Windsor are also concerned with lifemobile service, according to township clerk Elizabeth G. Nolan.

On July 8, the East Windsor Township Council passed two resolutions on the issue. The first asks the state Department of Health to “speedily” approve the county’s request for the unit and the second requests that one of the four units be located in Princeton Junction.

“We need one closer to East Windsor” said Township Clerk Elizabeth Nolan. “Have you ever driven on Princeton-Highstown Road during rush hour? It’s difficult to make it in 12 minutes, especially to Twin Rivers.”

West Windsor Deputy Mayor Caroline Bronson said, ideally, four lifemobiles should be located in Mercer County to serve all parts of the county equitably.

While West Windsor previously endorsed the Medical Center at Princeton location, she said the committee may change its mind.

“Personally, I may have a shift in position. The response times (to East Windsor) seem to be out of whack, ” she said.

If a fourth unit were available, she would prefer one to be located in Princeton Junction to serve West Windsor, East Windsor and portions of Princeton and another ot be housed on the Princeton-Hopewell border to serve the far northwestern part of the county, she said.

“Then they all get better access.” she said.

“We have a big responsibility and it’s urgent we do it well,” Dr.Ultan said.

Leave a Reply