The Princeton Packet
8 May, 1986 (~estimated)
Township weighs support of lifemobile
By Joseph Dee
HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP — Township Committee members remain dissatisfied with Dr. Barry Ultan and the paramedic service he provides Hopewell Valley, but they may soon make changes in their tactics to seek relief.
Three weeks ago, Mayor Richard Van Noy said the township would sue Dr. Ultan and the Helene Fuld Medical Center if the paramedic-staffed Mobile Intensive Care Unit ambulance service did not improve.
But Committeeman William Cane Monday said that a useful approach to the problem may be lobbying in Dr. Ultan’s behalf to state officials for it fourth so-called lifemobile.
Controversy has swirled around the countywide lifemobile program since it started. The three township volunteer ambulance companies warned of problems when Dr. Ultan first presented his plan for a centralized paramedic program to township officials last summer.
The governing bodies of Hopewell and Pennington boroughs and Hopewell Township approved Dr. Ultan’s plan, expecting that emergency service would be enhanced.
There are now three lifemobiles in the county — one each based in Trenton, Princeton, and Hamilton.
Difficulties between Dr. Ultan and officials here mushroomed when Township Committee members learned through newspaper accounts that no lifemobile was ever stationed in the township. Mayor Van Noy sent a strongly-worded letter to Dr. Ultan concerning the situation on April 10.
Township Committeeman William Kampfer Thursday said the best option available to the township is to get a lifemobile stationed here. “We’re put in the position where we have to be on (Dr. Ultan’s) side. He seems to be in the driver’s seat.” But Mr. Kampfer said that just because officials may work with Dr. Ultan, that does not mean all problems have been settled. “Other questions are unresolved. We’ve expressed our dissatisfaction to our assemblyman, Richard Zimmer,” he said.
Committee members reason that if a fourth unit was stationed in the township, many of the current problems with response times would vanish.
Dr. Ultan has said that he has applied to the state for a fourth lifemobile.
Officials of the township and both boroughs had hoped to meet with Dr. Ultan Monday morning, but neither Mayor Van Noy nor Dr. Ultan were able to keep the appointment. The meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. It will take place at the township Municipal Building and is open to the public.
“I’m personally very upset about the situation, but I’m going into the meeting with him with a clear head,” Mr. Kampfer said.
Mayor Van Noy said the state laws which give Helene Fuld Medical Center control over all paramedic service in Mercer County are the unforeseen result of zealous ambulance volunteers. “Unfortunately, the situation now has been brought on by the volunteers. What they did to build up the importance of the ambulance job, by lobbying for state requirements and regulations, is now killing them,” he said.
He recited a list of courses a person must take now just to drive an ambulance.
While Mayor Van Noy observed the irony of events, Mr. Kampfer criticized what he called an intrusive state government. “The state, in all its infinite wisdom, legislated local affairs, which it knows nothing about,” Mr. Kampfer said.
Township officials have voiced a number of concerns regarding the ambulance service directed by Dr. Ultan. Their primary concern is that the nearest lifemobile is in Princeton. They said Dr. Ultan promised that if they lent their support to the program, a unit would be stationed in either Pennington or the township.
Mayor Van Noy mentioned other problems. “Another objection to the service is that the Helene Fuld MICU drivers don’t know where any place is. They want the responsibility but don’t follow through,” he said. He added that the drivers of lifemobiles from Helene Fuld frequently go to the wrong addresses. One unit even went to the wrong municipality, he said.