Princeton contingent comes to the rescue


Jonathan Slutzman '01, left, president, and Gregg Paulson '98, chief, are part of a significant University-affiliated group that makes up the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad.

Princeton, N.J. -- Decked out in their uniforms, these Princeton University students stand on the sidelines during the football games at Princeton Stadium. They are ready and willing to go out on the field, but happy if they are not called to do so.

These students are members of a team that has nothing to do with making touchdowns. They are part of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, a group of approximately 60 volunteers from both the town and University communities, whose primary goal is saving lives. They score points seven days a week, 24 hours a day by protecting the health and welfare of Princeton residents and visitors.

In recognition of the "close and mutually beneficial relationship that has existed between the squad and the University for many years," said President Shapiro, the University recently agreed to donate $155,000 to cover the cost of acquiring a new heavy-duty ambulance. This contribution is in addition to the University's annual $25,000 contribution to the squad's operating expenses, as well as other in-kind contributions, such as no-cost summer housing for two University students who stay in Princeton to serve as volunteers on the squad.

"This is the largest single gift in the history of the squad," which was founded in 1939, said the squad's chief Gregg Paulson, class of '98. "It goes a long way toward providing financial stability to this organization whose lifeblood is donations," said Paulson, who, along with the squad's president, Jonathan Slutzman, class of '01, emphasized the happy symbiosis between the University and the squad.

As of June 30, the squad had 26 active members affiliated with the University, representing more than one-third of its total membership. Included in this group were 19 undergraduate students, two graduate students, one staff person and four alumni. The volunteer hours provided by the pool of University students, alumni and staff "certainly enables Princeton Borough and Township to staff its emergency services primarily with volunteers," Paulson said, noting that the squad has two paid emergency medical technicians working daytime hours Monday through Friday.

While providing a hefty portion of the fuel to run the squad, the University also puts a hefty demand on the squad's services. In 1999, the last year for which complete statistics are available, the squad answered 295 emergency calls for service at the University, representing more than 15 percent of its calls for that year. In addition to calls for emergency service, the squad provides stand-by ambulance service for numerous events at the University, such as all home football games and other athletic events, reunions/commencement activities and visits by dignitaries. These stand-by services amount to an average of 600 work hours per year.

The squad also provides an education that is impossible to get from books or other life experiences, Slutzman said.

Even though a lot of people assume that undergraduates become involved in preparation for medical school, "this applies to many fewer of us than most people would think," said Paulson, a psychology major who now is getting a master's degree in emergency services management at MCP Hahnemann University.

"I stayed in Princeton after I graduated -- something that many seniors do not want to do -- largely to keep working with the squad," he continued. "My ties to both the function of the squad and to the individuals on the squad and in the community are very strong."

Slutzman, who will graduate this June, is an environmental engineering major. He also will consider employment in the Princeton area in order to keep working with the squad. He noted that the squad's vice president, Christopher Taber, class of '99, was an anthropology major and now is a consultant for PriceWaterhouse Coopers. The squad's secretary, Kristina Berglund, class of '02, is one of the squad members who may go the medical school route after she graduates.

Training on campus?

All volunteers who ride on the ambulance have to be certified Emergency Medical Technicians. EMT training is a demanding 120-hour certification program through the New Jersey Department of Health. Currently, students have to go off campus for training, either to Trenton or New Brunswick, but Paulson and Slutzman are working to get the state to approve Princeton as a site for such a program.

"The University has agreed to provide the space -- we are just waiting to hear from the state," Paulson said. "When I took my EMT training in high school in Los Angeles, I had no idea about the existence of volunteer squads. Shortly after I came to Princeton, I saw the squad caring for a patient in front of 1901 Hall. Impressed with how the squad handled the emergency, I became more interested in the squad when I discovered that they primarily were volunteers. I joined the squad in December of my freshman year and since that time have responded to about 2,500 calls," Paulson said.

Slutzman, who got his EMT training when he came to Princeton as an undergraduate, has gone on more than 1,000 calls. In his opinion, the only negative aspect of serving on the squad over the years can be the intrusiveness of the radios and pagers that sometimes go off at inopportune moments, such as during a lecture in McCosh 50. Soon, however, squad members will be getting silent pagers, so that members can quietly but effectively fulfill their goals -- on and off the field.


February 19, 2001
Vol. 90, No. 17
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Page 4
Calendar of events

Page 6
Sims earns top NCAA honor
Student wins Sachs award

Page 7
Princeton contingent comes to the rescue

Page 8
Nassau Notes

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Editor: Ruth Stevens
Calendar editor: Carolyn Geller
Contributing writers: Karin Dienst, Marilyn Marks, Caroline Moseley, Steven Schultz, Peter Spencer
Photographer: Denise Applewhite
Design: Mahlon Lovett, Laurel Masten Cantor
Web edition: Mahlon Lovett