4 April, 1986
Borough urges lifemobile return
Despite discussions, unit remains in West Windsor
By Marjorie Snyder
Confusion this week over where to place an emergency lifesaving vehicle in Mercer County has led Princeton Borough officials to urge the return of the rig to the Medical Center at Princeton.
At the same time, an official at Helene Fuld Hospital in Trenton — which runs the county paramedics program — indicated another vehicle might be purchased because of growth in the Princeton area.
The Princeton Borough Council passed a resolution Thursday requesting the Mercer County Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) be relocated from the Princeton Junction Volunteer Fire Co. in West Windsor to its previous location in Princeton. A copy of the resolution will be sent to Helene Fuld Medical Center as well as officials in Princeton, Montgomery, and Hopewell townships, Pennington Borough, and Hopewell Borough.
Area mayors wrote a joint letter last week which protested the relocation of the MICU or lifemobile from Princeton to West Windsor. Mercer County lifemobile units — an emergency vehicle which holds medicine, advanced life support equipment, and a paramedic team — are also stationed in Hamilton and Trenton.
Helene Fuld officials moved the MICU unit March 17 to the Princeton Junction Volunteer Fire Co. contending that more room was needed for paramedics. The unit, originally located at the Medical Center at Princeton, was based at the Valley Road Administration Building in Princeton for six weeks before it was moved to the fire company building.
“Exactly what’s going on is still up in the air. It’s a level of care we’ve had for quite a few years. And I don’t think we should let it roll over and die.” — Mark Freda
- Barry Ultan, director of the Mercer County Mobile Intensive Care Unit, said Thursday that no move has been made regarding the Princeton Junction-based lifemobile.
Yet an official from the Medical Center at Princeton and a borough councilman were of a different opinion. They said they thought the rig was back in Princeton.
“The vehicle does not stay at one place all the time,” Dr. Ultan explained. As a result, if the vehicle is answering a call in Princeton, it may appear that the rig is stationed there.
Although discussions between Helene Fuld and the Medical Center at Princeton are “moving in a positive direction,” Dr. Ultan said Thursday afternoon that no changes have been made.
Helene Fuld officials are expected to meet with Princeton hospital representatives sometime next week, he said, as part of an “ongoing discussion.”
However, an official at the Medical Center at Princeton heard that the lifemobile was back in Princeton during the day hours and still in West Windsor at night.
“We had received a phone call they would be the during the day,” said Jane Kerney, director of public information at the hospital. Although she did not recall an official statement being made, Ms. Kerney said that the paramedics who ride the lifemobile were at the hospital most of Wednesday and Thursday.
Borough Councilman Mark Freda agreed that the situation is not quite clear. He urged council members to make telephone calls to hospital officials and “keep an eye on it.”
“Exactly what’s going on is still up in the air,” said Mr. Freda, a member and former president of the Princeton First Aid Squad. “It’s a level of care we’ve had for quite a few years. And I don’t think we should let it roll over and die.”
The need for emergency care especially came into focus March 24 when a Montgomery Township died in a car accident waiting more than 20 minutes for help. The lifemobile rig from Princeton Junction was traveling with a patient to Freehold Hospital. Some officials have argued that a loss in emergency time that day proved the need for a vehicle located in Princeton.
Yet Dr. Ultan said that “it didn’t matter where that vehicle was stationed.”
“You do get times where you get multiple episodes in a short time,” said the head of cardiology at Helene Fuld. “The location of the vehicle had nothing to do with the case.”
Dr. Ultan said an application requesting another rig is expected to be sent soon to the state Department of Health for approval.
“I think that will solve the problem,” he said. “We’re one of the fastest-growing areas in the state. We need a fourth vehicle.”
Yet Princeton might end up acquiring a lifemobile on its own.
At the council meeting Thursday, Mr. Freda passed around a letter from Dennis W. Doody, president of the Medical Center at Princeton. Mr. Doody not only indicated that he wants a lifemobile back at the hospital but that the medical center should run its own paramedics program.
Special permission would be needed tor Princeton to run its own program, according to Mr. Freda.
Although the Princeton First Aid Squad owns an ambulance equipped as a “lifemobile,” it can only be used when two paramedics are aboard, Mr. Freda said. It cannot be used for advanced lifesaving treatment, such as ‘administering medicine, he said.