21 November, 1984
Lifemobile Program – MAILBOX Nov. 1984
Lifemobile Program, To the Editor of Town Topics:
I am writing this letter on behalf of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad.
Recent articles in area newspapers have reported that Helene Fuld Hospital (the hospital responsible for the County Lifemobile system) will be replacing the present o system of 10 or 11 Lifemobiles (Mobile Intensive Care Units) with three units operated from strategic points around the a County. This is true but needs to be placed in the perspective of the history of the program.
The Mercer County Lifemobile program started around 1975 as a predominantly volunteer operation with a few vehicles and paramedics and expanded as more people were trained, to a total of 11 units. The vehicles were often staffed with only one paramedic who was assisted by Emergency Medical Technicians and others trained in basic skills.
In the last few years for a variety of reasons including burnout and the migration of volunteers to out-of-county paid positions, the number of individuals trained as paramedics, maintaining their certification, and continuing to ride as volunteers with Mercer county Lifemobiles has decreased.
At the same time, the State Department of Health has notified the Mercer County Lifemobile program that they are not in compliance with a state regulation that requires two paramedics to ride on each call. To meet this requirement and to guarantee 24-hour paramedic coverage, Helene Fuld Hospital has proposed three units (the maximum reimbursable under state population guidelines) staffed full-time by two paid professionals each.
The loss of the squad-based Lifemobiles will not mean the loss of ambulance coverage. Princeton First Aid Squad will continue to provide emergency medical services to Princeton Borough and Township with our volunteers and paid day crew. Princeton First Aid Squad will work actively with the paid Lifemobiles when needed. These changes will not come about until after the first of the year. We feel they will provide a good foundation for this much needed program.
Rather than expend more energy trying to preserve the present understaffed system (Princeton has only two volunteer paramedics), we recommend that continued efforts be directed to obtaining state authorization for a fourth and fifth paid or mixed paid/volunteer unit that would improve response times to the remote parts of the greater Mercer area and also decrease the likelihood of all units being tied up on calls at the time an additional call is received.
If we can answer any question you have, call our business number, 924-3338. Please leave your name and number.
J. EDWIN OBERT, JR.