10 November, 1984
Paid Paramedics Urged for Towns
Author: Paul Mickle, Staff Writer
Lifemobile officials from Helene Fuld Medical Center last-night urged suburban and rural Mercer County governments to fund their own mobile lifesaving program to help the hospital deal with its shortage of key paramedics.
Dr. Leslie B. Alton, medical director of the Trenton hospital’s Mobile Intensive Care Unit, told more than a dozen local government leaders that Fuld would sponsor any community willing to finance the “considerable” cost of paying for paramedics.
At a meeting at the hospital, Alton made the suggestion after outlining a Fuld plan to meet a long- ignored state regulation about the staffing of Life-mobiles. The plan involves restructuring the program along regional lines, rather than relying heavily on volunteer paramedics from suburban and rural Mercer rescue squads.
Hamilton Mayor Jack Rafferty, one of the local government officials in attendance, noted that his community already pays three full-time paramedics and charged that volunteers attached to Hamilton squads have been “demoralized” by the change proposed by the hospital.
Pennington Borough Councilman Richard Butterfoss, another official who expressed concern, noted that the local squads will lose “drug boxes” under the new hospital plan — meaning medications for the treatment of the critically injured or ailing won’t be available to volunteer paramedics.
Alton noted that dispensing drugs is not the only task a paramedic might perform on a badly injured person and said “drug boxes“ would be carried on the Lifemobiles dispatched by the hospital. Saying that a professional and volunteer crew of paramedics could respond to suburban and rural emergencies under the new plan, Alton said the paid medics would make their medications available to the volunteers at the scene if the volunteer squad members arrive first.
The Fuld doctor said Lifemobiles will be set up at still undecided locations around the Hamilton and Washington township line and near the junctions of
Lawrence, Princeton and Hopewell townships to insure all areas of the county are covered with two paramedics on all Lifemobile runs. The plan is in response to a state order requiring the county to meet a standard which Alton conceded frequently hasn’t been met in the past year due to a shortage of both paid and volunteer paramedics.
Alton said the hospital can meet the standard with its revamped program. But he stressed that volunteer paramedics, when available, will be requested to continue answering calls and said the hospital “encouraged” any town to supplement the countywide coverage by bringing on paid paramedics.