Editorial: An ambulance change makes sense for Manorville

08/09/2012 4:00 AM |

Some things make too much sense not to be pursued.

Manorville resident Clare Bennett’s request this week to have Manorville ambulances instead of Riverhead ambulances respond to calls on her Oakwood Drive block and the immediate neighborhood is one of them.

Such a change would affect about 60 families that live at the edge of town and find themselves in the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance district, even though they’re much closer to Manorville Community Ambulance headquarters. And we’re talking light-years closer, considering what’s at stake.

The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance headquarters on Osborn Avenue is 10.2 miles from Oakwood Drive, while the Manorville ambulance headquarters on South Street is 3.75 miles from Oakwood. It’s actually surprising it’s taken this long for folks in these communities to speak out.

Ms. Bennett begged Riverhead Town Board members for help Tuesday, saying that she had to wait quite a while (40 minutes, a number Riverhead ambulance officials found hard to fathom) for an ambulance to arrive at her home for three separate medical emergencies in recent years. Each time she had to wait, even while knowing a row of shiny Manorville Community Ambulance vehicles stood ready just a few minutes away.

The situation is unacceptable. But because Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance is funded by a tax base that’s entirely in Riverhead Town and Manorville Community Ambulance is funded by a tax base that’s entirely in Brookhaven Town, Supervisor Sean Walter explained to Ms. Bennett on Tuesday, the only way Manorville ambulances could be allowed to respond to a Riverhead Town address would be for Riverhead to contract with Manorville for ambulance services.

But he also said the board would do what it could to make that happen and that he personally would contact Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko to get the ball rolling.

So often, requests like these — residents’ imploring local officials to try to fix blatant problems with school, fire or other taxing districts — are dismissed as being impossible to achieve. So Mr. Walter’s response was encouraging.

Ms. Bennett also made it clear her request has nothing to do with dissatisfaction with the work of Riverhead volunteers. Riverhead ambulance officials should not take the Manorville resident’s request as a slight and, in response, try to jealously protect their “territory,” which is known to happen from time to time among proud emergency responders.

Should town officials in Riverhead and Brookhaven not act, Ms. Bennett vowed to circulate a petition among her neighbors, whom she said support her. This is a serious situation with a logical solution. It should not have to come to residents needing to petition en masse.

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