University students have become increasingly important to the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad in recent years, and the election of Greg Paulson '98 as the squad's new chief is a clear indicator of that trend.
Paulson, the first University alumnus to be elected chief in the squad's history, took over Jan. 1, succeeding Michael Bonotto. Paulson joined the squad five years ago, shortly after his arrival at the University, though he received his initial emergency medical technician training in Los Angeles while still in high school.
"I was thrilled to be elected. My time with the squad really added a lot to my Princeton career," he said. "If I hadn't joined, my experience would have been very different."
Paulson is not the only new officer with University connections.
Jonathan Slutzman '01, who joined the squad his freshman year, was elected squad president, a position that deals with administrative aspects of squad operation. Slutzman is the second University student to serve as president.
"University students are very important to the squad, and they get a lot of good experience being a part of it," Slutzman said. "It also gives them a chance to give back to the community."
The first students to join the squad became members in 1972. Since then, student membership has ballooned, now comprising almost one-third of the 60-member volunteer squad.
Paulson said he thought the growing connection between the squad and the University could aid in attracting new undergraduate volunteers. "We're always looking for University students who are interested and dedicated and who will want to work their way through the ranks during the four years they are here," Paulson said.
Jeff Golomb, who has been a member of the squad for more than 30 years, said that until the early 1970s, few students became involved in programs in the Princeton community. "It was sort of accepted that the bulk of the University students stayed on campus," he said. "The workload at Princeton was considered difficult enough that it required total dedication."
Paulson noted, however, that having a large number of University students in the squad sometimes can cause problems. "Over breaks or vacations, we certainly miss the students," he said. "But we have a large number of members from the town, so our ability to respond quickly and effectively is never really affected."
He added that the squad also includes two paid EMTs to supplement the volunteers. "They are on during the day, when a lot of our volunteers are at work or in class," he said.
Paulson said he and the other officers are enthusiastic about the coming year, though they expect the squad will have to find ways to respond to increasing demands from the community. "It's going to be a challenge," he said. "It's much harder to be proactive and stay ahead of what's going on than it is just to react."