Volunteer EMTs Still Necessary##M:[more]##

Most of the towns along the Route 1 corridor are served by volunteer ambulance services, though some are supplemented by paid emergency service crews during the business day when most volunteers are working at their regular jobs. During nights and weekends, all-volunteer first aid squads provide emergency medical services in answer to all 9-1-1 calls. Even during the business day, volunteers provide backup to the paid crews when more than one 9-1-1 call occurs within a short time. Some people wonder why volunteer squads are necessary when they assume that paid EMS organizations would provide more experienced emergency service technicians.

The first issue is straight funding. Townships cannot easily afford to keep ambulances manned by paid personnel on a 24 by 7 basis. Three 8 hour crews of two would require at least 10 employed people to cover days, nights, weekends, vacations and leave for continuing education. Fully equipped ambulances cost more than $200,"000 each. Keeping them supplied—and crews trained and equipped—costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

In addition to funding, staff availability is a key issue for paid squads. A single motor vehicle accident or structure fire can require four or five ambulances to respond. A call on one side of town to a nursing home may be followed a few minutes later by a call for a choking child on the other side of town. While these events don’t happen every day, they aren’t rare, either. It isn’t practical for a township to fund three or more ambulance crews when they won’t be needed on a daily basis. Volunteers can serve as second or third crews when the need arises.

In theory, crews from neighboring towns will respond when a crew is busy, but this dramatically increases response times and the neighboring crew may not easily be able to find addresses in the other town. And if every town went to full-time paid crews, it becomes increasingly unlikely that an ambulance would be available. Regular response to neighboring towns is also unfair to the crew’s primary constituency, which could be left without an ambulance in the event of an emergency.

For-profit emergency medical service arrangements have similar problems and more. First, in order to be profitable, the company cannot keep more than one crew stationed in a town. To improve profitability, these companies would also provide routine non-emergency transportation as well. These transports tend to make ambulances unavailable for emergencies. Some routine transports can take the ambulance out of town for several hours.

So why not use volunteers for only second and third assignments? If paid EMTs provided all of the first-call coverage, it would be nearly impossible to have an experienced volunteer organization. Volunteers need to keep their skills sharp through both continuous training and practical experience. It is unrealistic to expect a volunteer to put in hundreds of hours of continuing education when his or her skills will be used only once every few weeks or so.

Besides riding on the ambulance when they are on duty, the volunteer emergency medical technicians in many communities keep fully stocked first aid kits in their cars and homes. When there are numerous qualified EMTs doing their personal business around town, the chance of someone being on hand in a mall or at the scene of a motor vehicle accident is pretty strong. In many towns, “first responders” will go directly to medical emergencies before an ambulance can arrive. This reduces the time people have to wait for help.

Full-time paid EMT crews work well in cities where several ambulance stations can provide overlapping service areas, and where the call-volume justifies keeping a number of ambulances staffed at all times. In the suburbs and rural areas, volunteer first aid squads provide the best solution to the need for emergency medical services. Brian Gould

President, Plainsboro Rescue Squad

Thank You, Voters

On Tuesday, January 24, voters in West Windsor and Plainsboro approved both questions in the school district facilities referendum. We would like to thank all the people who made that happen.

The School Board and Administration crafted a plan to meet the needs of our students with an understanding of the tax realities we face. They did so in time to gain approval for 40 percent state aid for the majority of the work. We thank them on both points.

PTAs and PTSAs invited us to their meetings to share information about the referendum. School principals opened their schools to the public for information sessions and tours. Community groups hosted presentations to inform their members about the details of the plan. Parents listened carefully and then told their neighbors what they had learned. Residents who couldn’t yet vote expressed their support by signing the referendum petition. Students asked hard questions and then wrote articles and letters. We thank them all.

Most of all, we would like to thank the members of our community. The overwhelming support for the first question really shows that people in West Windsor and Plainsboro do care about their neighbors, supporting the needs of others for the good of the whole.

Thank you, Board, Administration, staff, parents, students, friends and neighbors! It is wonderful to live in a community that values education and cares for one another.

Citizens Referendum Team

Anthony Fleres, Diane Hasling, Andy Lupo, Chris Yan

On behalf of the Board of Education and the administration of the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, we would like to thank the voters of our two communities for their support of the recent facilities referendum. The approval of the referendum shows a continuing interest in and dedication to the excellent educational system of our regional school district.

The WW-P Board of Education works very hard to ensure that funds are budgeted for a breadth of educational offerings, professional development opportunities for teachers and staff, a strong administrative structure, and a safe and effective place in which to learn. While replacing roofs and repaving parking lots might not seem important, these projects, along with updating HVAC systems, are vital to the strength of the school programs.

This step is just a beginning. Over the next several years we hope you will watch the construction progress and ongoing educational growth. Please accept our thanks and know that the trust you have placed in our hands will be taken seriously as we move ahead with building projects.

WW-P Board of Education

Hemant Marathe, president

Patricia Bocarsly, vice-president

Ellen Walsh, administration

and facilities committee chair

Holiday Drive

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the donors and volunteers who made our Annual Holiday Drive such a resounding success.

This year over 100 households requested assistance through this holiday season. Some requests came from those who have experienced illness, recent homelessness, loss of employment, or domestic violence. Others suffer from mental or developmental disabilities. Still others were Hurricane Katrina evacuees who had lost everything.

Each year I ask that you remember the needs of these members of our community; and each year you step forward to embrace those needs in the most generous terms.

Whether it was a winter coat, a doll, donated food, or a gift certificate — all was appreciated by those who received of your generosity. To those who gave time and precious volunteer hours to this worthy cause — our sincerest thanks as well. Jan M. Bayern

Director, Plainsboro Department of Municipal Welfare

Camp Fair

Thank you for your coverage of the free consulting service available for parents exploring summer opportunities for their children in “Tips on Summer Trips and Camps” in the January 6 edition of the News. Many West Windsor and Plainsboro families attended the recent summer teen fair I sponsored at Princeton High School and a number of others have called to obtain information. I believe they were well served by the opportunity to meet with representatives from over 35 teen summer programs.

As a parent myself, I know how overwhelming it can be to go onto the internet and not be able to distinguish one program from another. If families missed the fair, they can still contact me for a free consultation.

Helaine Isaacs

Tips on Trips and Camps