Obert notes ‘inadequate’ squad responses; calls for help

The Princeton Packet
June 27, 1980

Obert notes ‘inadequate’ squad responses; calls for help

by Pam Hersh
Staff Writer

Four times during the past week the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad responded to emergencies in a “below standard and inadequate fashion” because of the squad’s daytime manpower shortage, and “The situation is going to get worse — much worse, as the summer progresses,” according to squad captain Edwin Obert.

No lives were lost, but “we are pressing our luck. My shoulders are not broad enough to shoulder the responsibility of lives lost because of an understaffed squad,” said Mr. Obert, who is “urging Princeton residents – for their own sake” to attend a special joint borough/township government meeting tonight, Wednesday, at 9 p.m. in Borough Hall and lobby officials for fulltime paid squad personnel.

Mr Obert predicted that by the time The Packet appeared on the newstands, three or four additional “unsatisfactory” emergency responses would have occurred. By unsatisfactory-, Mr. Oben means l – calling in a neighboring squad; 2 – long response times (sometimes 15 minutes or longer) ; 3 – single party responses; 4 – leaving the scene of an accident to obtain additional equipment.

THE RESPONSE time is most critical, said Mr. Oben. If a person goes into cardiac-pulmonary arrest (the heart and breathing stops), rescue efforts must begin within four minutes. Brain death starts to occur beyond the four minute point. A fulltime professional crew can be at the scene of an emergency within two minutes, according to the squad captain.

After squad member Chuck Genlilin goes on vacation, the squad will have only two people – Mark Freda from Princeton University and Mary Ann Henderson from Princeton Medical Center – who will be available for daytime Monday through Friday emergencies.

“There will be many times when neither one of them will be able to get out of work, or when only one can answer the call – and this is against squad policy. Also, it takes Mark Freda at least 15 minutes to answer a call.

“The hospital and the university have been very kind in allowing their employees such freedom to come and go for First Aid Squad business. But both employers have told me the arrangement is only temporary. These two institutions alone cannot be expected to subsidize first aid services for the entire community,” said Mr. Obert.

THE PURPOSE OF tonight’s Borough Council and Township Committee meeting is a presentation of the final report from the Joint First Aid Squad Committee.

The report, whose details have not yet been made public, calls for the borough and the township to combine resources and hire two fulltime (one paramedic and one emergency medical technician) squad at an approximate total cost of $32,000, said Richard Woodbridge, chairman of the joint squad committee.

The special squad committee, which is made up of representatives from the, Borough Council, the Township Committee. Princeton Hospital and the First Aid Squad, was formed 13 months ago in order to investigate the status of first aid service within the Princeton community.

“The squad has other problems concerning gasoline and capital equipment, but the most urgent problem is manpower. If only we could get just half of the approximately 1,000 persons per year served by the First Aid Squad to either come to the meeting or write a letter to the municipal officials, I am sure we could lick this very dangerous manpower situation,” said Mr. Obert.

The Princeton Packet
June 27, 1980

Photo Caption:

Firemen on parade

A band of mummers sets the pace Friday evening down Nassau Street in Princeton Borough as Princeton’s fire fighters marched – or rode – in the traditional annual Firmen’s Parade and Inspection. At parade’s end local officials were on hand for the ceremonial inspection and to cite firmen for their service.

(Mark Czajkowski photos)

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