Paid rescue squadmen or $35 ambulance fees

The Princeton Packet
May 30, 1979

Paid rescue squadmen or $35 ambulance fees

Two stories in different publications of the Princeton Packet Inc., should have been incorporated in one.

One was the announcement last week in the Packet that a study panel will recommend that the borough and township of Princeton hire two full time people for the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. The annual bill will be about $32,500.

The other story appeared in a special edit on of the Manville News, commemorating that borough’s 50th anniversary. It noted that the Manville Rescue Squad was organized primarily because the fee for ambulance service from Somerville Hospital was $35 -and that was 25 years ago.

In all probability if further research were carried out, it would be revealed that Somerset Hospital lost money in operating ambulance service – even at $35 per run 25 years ago.

The volunteer first aid squads – the majority of which have sprung up since World War II – have proved to be a godsend not only to the communities which they serve but to the medical centers which also serve those communities. They have provided faster service — hospital ambulances had to first get to the community requiring their services and then back to the hospital; they were operated completely by volunteers, and they relied entirely on donations.

All those benefits prevail. But community financial support for the squads has not grown commensurately with the rise in costs, and changing work habits have left may squads without adequate personnel for daytime calls.

Thus many communities were faced with either returning to hospital-operated ambulances with the consequent high costs and loss of crucial time or paying several highly trained people to man the rescue vehicles during workdays. Obviously the latter is the more logical choice.

There appears to be no other route for the Princetons. The community must have adequate protection around the clock. If the residents refuse to pay their fair share for this protection, there is no alternative but to put part of that cost onto the public tax roll.

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