By Jennifer Ortiz
HOWELL – Councilwoman Pauline Smith received a round of applause from those in attendance at the Township Council’s April 18 meeting when she returned to her seat following a two-month absence.
Smith said she had battled a viral infection.
“I had no symptoms except I was very tired. I could have died. I just collapsed one morning and I was off to the hospital and they pulled me back from the brink. Then I had to spend the better part of two months in rehab to be able to move,” she said, adding that she is doing much better now.
“I would like to reassure everybody that I did the best I could at doing my job. Even though I was not at meetings, I was in constant touch with our professionals, with my fellow council people and with the mayor on issues, the budget and whatever else came up. I did not get a vote, but I got my two cents in,” Smith said, chuckling. “And I knew what was going on.”
Mayor Bill Gotto congratulated Smith on her return, saying, “It would have been easy for somebody who went through what she went through to say, ‘You know what? My time has come and gone and I’m moving on,’ and you didn’t because that is a testament to how much you care about this town and the job you were sworn to do. It is a pleasure to have you back.”
Smith said she is well and strong and ready to do the job that needs to get done.
“I want to thank everybody for the cards, the good wishes, the prayers, it takes all that to get you through. I’m fine now. A great big thank you and it’s good to be back,” Smith said.
During the meeting, Deputy Mayor Robert Nicastro brought up an issue that involved a Howell resident.
“An incident happened on a soccer field in a neighboring town. A Howell resident had a heart attack. They were able to revive him by using an automated external defibrillator (AED). I sent an email to (Township Manager) Jeff (Mayfield) right after that and I learned that we do not have those (AEDs) available in our parks. So what I would like to do is have a discussion with the governing body,” Nicastro said.
Nicastro said he wants to determine two things; first, if AEDs can be required to be placed in Howell’s parks in case of an emergency, and second, whether volunteers are required to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.
“I know we require our volunteers to have a background check, but do we require them to have CPR certification? Is that something we can do? I did not see that in our ordinance when I did some research,” he said.
“Perhaps we can join with the volunteer ambulance organizations because I do not want to do another unfunded mandate to these organizations by requiring them to have this expense to buy an AED. But perhaps through our Office of Emergency Management or perhaps through grants, there may be some money available,” Nicastro said.
He said the AED that was used on the soccer field in the neighboring community saved the life of a 39-year-old man.
“It’s just something that could enhance our community,” Nicastro said.
The council members agreed to investigate the matter for a possible discussion in the future.