03/31/16 10:00am
03/31/2016 10:00 AM

The Riverhead Town Board, in its work session Thursday, discussed a proposal to allow about six acres in the proposed 50-lot subdivision at the Enterprise Park at Calverton to be used for a substation for the Manorville and Wading River fire departments and the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance.

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04/11/14 5:00pm
04/11/2014 5:00 PM

Sonny Turner and his wife of 61 years, Hattie

Walker “Sonny” Turner, longtime ambulance volunteer, photographer, retired postman and chaplain — among numerous other roles — died April 3 at the age of 83 following a long illness.

“Sonny wore a number of different hats,” his family said in his obituary.

And now, the many people he touched are offering their condolences, said his wife of 61 years, Hattie.  (more…)

06/18/13 4:13pm
06/18/2013 4:13 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO |  The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance headquarters will be named after both Heidi Behr and Bill Stone.

Earlier this year, the Riverhead Town Board voted to name a section of road in downtown’s riverfront parking lot after Heidi Behr, a Riverhead ambulance volunteer who died in an ambulance crash in May 2005 while responding to a call.

Board members also agreed to name the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance headquarters after Ms. Behr, who was one of two emergency medical technicians who died in the 2005 crash. The other, Bill Stone of Ridge, was a paid EMT. But members of the ambulance board said last week that after speaking with the families of both Ms. Behr and Mr. Stone, they believe both should be honored.

“The ambulance corps is very insistent it be named for Bill and Heidi, not just Heidi,” board president Bruce Talmage told the Town Board last Thursday.

“I have no problem with that,” Supervisor Sean Walter responded. The proposal was met with no opposition from Town Board members.

The ambulance board suggested putting the name on an electronic sign with a rolling message board, although Town Board members said those are not permitted by the town’s sign code. Town officials agreed to let the ambulance board come up with the language and design for the sign and to bring it back at a future meeting for discussion.

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05/02/13 8:00am
05/02/2013 8:00 AM

After years of weaving through traffic lights on Route 58 on their way to emergencies, Riverhead ambulance volunteers are no longer seeing red.

For the past year, along Riverhead Town’s busiest road, a new system that changes red lights to green as ambulances approach has helped first responders get to alarms faster.

The Opticom system used by the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps employs GPS and radio signals to communicate between ambulances and antennas attached to traffic lights along Route 58, said ambulance chief Joseph Oliver.

As an ambulance approaches a traffic light, the system triggers any red lights along the ambulance’s route to switch to green, Mr. Oliver said. The GPS also registers how fast the ambulance is traveling and whether it’s turning, he said.

The new system has cut down on the ambulance corps’ response times since it was installed in early 2012 and has made it safer for ambulances to respond to calls.

“If we get in an accident, it doesn’t matter how serious the emergency, we’re not going,” Mr. Oliver said.

The antennas are attached to the traffic signals from Tanger Outlets to Ostrander Avenue, he said. Any new lights built on the road will have the system.

The Opticom system is designed to give cars in the opposite lanes a yellow then red light, with enough time for them to stop and let the ambulance through, he said. The corps now has Opticom installed in all its ambulances and fi rst responder vehicles. It paid for two of the transmitters — which cost roughly $2,000 a piece — but the other seven were donated.

Brookhaven Town fire departments and ambulance crews are switching over to the system thanks to grant funding, Mr. Oliver said.

Riverhead Town Police Chief David Hegermiller said the department could benefit from a light-preemption system. Funding has been the biggest hurdle, as the police department would need far more transmitters than the ambulance corps.

“It would be great to have, but currently it is unfunded,” Chief Hegermiller said.

The system doesn’t mean ambulance drivers can be careless, though. The drivers still slow down as they approach a light in case any other cars are running the red light in the other direction, Mr. Oliver said, a problem that occurs far too often to his liking.

He said volunteers see drivers running the red lights “every day, just because people aren’t paying attention. Always pay attention because it could change really quickly.”

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