W. Deptford Takes Squad's Ambulance

Posted: April 07, 1995

WEST DEPTFORD — The Township Council voted last night to seize the Emergency Squad's $110,000 ambulance and revoke the squad's right to operate amid allegations of

financial misconduct and abuse of power.

By a vote of 5-0, the council adopted an ordinance preventing the Emergency Squad from working in the township, a move that may land the heated squabble in the courts.

Following last night's action, members of West Deptford Emergency Medical Service - now the town's working ambulance squad - took possession of the West Deptford Emergency Squad's ambulance. The vehicle is owned by the township.

Attorneys for the Emergency Squad sought a court injunction last night to prevent seizure of the ambulance. Gloucester County Superior Court Judge Martin Herman turned down the injunction request during a flurry of telephone calls to his home.

Township Administrator Gerald White said the Gloucester County 911 dispatch center was informed last night that only the West Deptford Emergency Medical Service, a volunteer ambulance service operated directly by the township, was authorized to provide emergency services.

During public debate on the ordinance, Emergency Squad attorney Jeffery Puff defended the squad's performance and repeated the group's support of its leaders.

Puff said he would continue efforts to secure an injunction against the ordinance this morning in Superior Court.

During the last two weeks, the Emergency Squad's leaders, Captain Barbara Iavicola and President Scott Haines, have filed personal defamation suits against township Mayor David Shields over the dispute.

The suits stem primarily from a letter the mayor wrote to the West Deptford Emergency Service Coordinating Council a month ago in which Shields accused Iavicola and Haines of financial misconduct and abuse of power.

Shields called upon the Emergency Squad to oust Iavicola and Haines. Failing that, Shields said the township would revoke the squad's emergency services operations. The squad refused the mayor's call, and voted full support for its two leaders.

Though Shields' letter - as well as subsequent statements to the press - alleged possible criminal misconduct on the part of Iavicola and Haines, no charges have been filed by the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office.

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