Aid squad dilemma: User pay the solution?

Princeton Packet
6 September 1981

Aid squad dilemma: User pay the solution?

by Pam Hersh
Staff Writer

Borough Council members Barbara Hill and Richard Macgill tonight (Wednesday, 8 p.m.. Valley Road School) will appear before the Township Committee to suggest a plan for rescuing the financially starved paid day crew program of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad.

Sources close to the discussions about how to finance the two paid daytime squad personnel, said the council members will suggest a “pay as you go” system for daytime first aid squad service. Currently the paid daytime program is financed out of the general revenues of the township and the borough, with the
township budgeting five times the amount that the borough has committed to the program.

No details of the council’s plan have been made public, and township committee members are reluctant to comment on the plan until it is unveiled. But it is thought that the proposal suggests a system in which users should pay a set fee for first aid squad service during daytime Monday through Friday hours. The Princeton Medical Center might consider providing free billing service for the squad, because the medical center has the technical equipment to facilitate the billing, according to informed sources.

AS OF SEPT. 25, the paid daytime crew program will not have enough
money for continued operation. The $36,000 program needs another $3,000 to get through the rest of 1981 and another $4,000 to function through the program’s second complete year, which ends on April 30. 1982.

During the first year of the daytime program’s operation (April 1980 through April 1981), the two daytime employees were financed by the township and the borough on a ratable basis; the township paid two-thirds of the costs and the borough paid one-third of the costs. For the second year of the program (from May 1. 1981 through April 30. 1982). the township agreed to pay two-thirds ($24,000) of the program’s $36,000 cost,

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but the borough agreed only to pay $5,000.

Committee member William Cherry said he “thinks the other committee members would agree that high quality rescue squad service day and night can not be sacrificed. I can’t comment on any rumored suggestions from Borough Council. And Township Committee will listen intently to what council is saying and try to work with them to find a solution

SEVERAL OF the 35 volunteer first aid squad members, who have heard rumors about a “pay as you go” system, are saying that such a plan would destroy the spirit and functioning of the volunteer service. “Many volunteers, who have pride in doing a free service for the community have told me they would quit if we go to a paid systcm — even if the paid system is only for the daytime hours.” said squad captain Edwin Obert.

Mr. Obert also said he is concerned about the fees cutting into voluntary community contributions to the squad.

A solution to the paid crew problem “must be found and it must be a permanent solution. Even if we get through this funding crunch by means of some money manipulation, it is unhealthy for the community to be faced with this problem every year. And it will be very difficult for the Princeton squad to attract quality squad personnel, if there is not job security.” in Mr. Obert’s opinion.

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