Defibrillator use should not be role of employee

After reading letters to the editor and comments from our East Brunswick mayor, administrator and Township Council members about the need for defibrillators in public places such as the Senior Center, I felt compelled to write this letter.

There is nothing more important or urgent than trying to save someone’s life. However, I do not think it is fair or ethical to put the burden of this action on an employee of the township. We have an outstanding Police Department and very capable police officers in the department. I believe all our police officers are very well-trained in working with a defibrillator. It would take approximately the same amount of time for an employee to get a defibrillator out of a closet in the center and set it up as it would for one of our highly qualified police officers to run across the park to the Senior Center.

Saving lives is a responsibility of all police departments, and individuals know this before they join a department. To put this burden on a civilian employee by now putting it in his or her job description is far and above the employee’s responsibility. If it is the plan of our mayor, administrator and council to train current employees, then it should be done on a strictly volunteer basis. This should not be part of a job description or mandated by the township.

In today’s world there is a terrible liability associated with actions such as the use of a defibrillator, and no employee should be forced to take it on. I sincerely hope that a lot of thought goes into this new idea prior to exposing any of our civilian employees to taking on the responsibility. If it is done on a volunteer basis, then the township must also ensure that the employee is well-protected from any liability, and that it is well documented.

I think saving another person’s life must be one of the most exhilarating feelings one can ever experience, but civilian employees must never be required in a job description to take on that responsibility, especially when their job has nothing to do with medical knowledge.

Mary Tonachio

Former Personnel Manager

East Brunswick Township