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RVAC seeks to add paid responders to Jamesport substation during summer

The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps is hoping to have its Jamesport substation manned on weekends during the summer to improve response times in that area.

Garrett Lake, the president of the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps’ board of directors, and Mike Caron, the assistant chief, discussed the issue with the Riverhead Town Board at its work session Thursday.

They also discussed upgrading the radios used by the ambulance to avoid a repeat of what Mr. Lake called the “catastrophic radio failure” the ambulance crew had last year. 

“With the traffic being so bad, it was taking the ambulance more time to respond,”said Councilman Tim Hubbard. 

Mr. Lake said said he and former president Keith Lewin met with the Greater Jamesport Civic Association last year on this issue. He said that most of their calls come from the center of the town, so that when a call comes in from Jamesport, all of their ambulances are often on other calls. 

The ambulance corps is seeking to have one paid emergency medical technician and one paid paramedic stationed at the Jamesport ambulance barn on Manor Road on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May 23 to Nov. 1. 

The cost would be $19,584, according to Mr. Lake. 

While the corps would be using paid responders during parts of the day, the crews from 6 p.m. to midnight are all volunteers. 

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said this was discussed during the budget process in November, and officials agreed to wait until its needed before implementing it. 

“It’s been in the works for some time and you have the money in the budget,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said. 

“You guys provide a great service,” Ms. Hubbard said. 

The Town Board is officially the board members of the Riverhead Ambulance District and it instituted a third party billing system that went into effect in September 2017, whereby auto insurance companies would be billed only for auto accidents in the town. 

To date, more than $300,000 has been raised, officials said. Officials have said the money is intended to go into a reserve account to support the construction of a new ambulance barn. 

Garret Lake, left, and Mike Caron speak at Thursday’s Town Board work session. (Credit: Tim Gannon)


Last year, the ambulance saw its radio communications system go down, and leave the corps with no radio communication for a time, according to Mr. Lake.

The ambulance corps still has areas where the radio coverage is “not great,” he said. Places like the Enterprise Park at Calverton, some beaches and the Long Island Expressway have poor radio coverage, he said. 

The corps is now looking to buy new radios that use a “talk group” from the county Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services that Mr. Lake says can cover the entire county.

“You could stand in Montauk and I could go stand in Babylon and we could talk like we were right now to one another,” he said. The radios can communicate on both new and old radio channels, he said. 

The question will be the cost. The radios, called APX 8000 All Band Portable Radios, from Motorola, sell for $6,400 apiece. The ambulance is considering buying 40 of them, for $256,000, although they have a need for 80 radios. 

Mr. Hubbard said he believes the board will approve the Jamesport ambulance staffing, while the radios will come down to which package the town buys. 

According to Bill Rothaar, the town’s finance administrator, the town has a reserve fund for ambulance vehicles and a reserve fund for buildings using the third party billing. The latter has $40,336 in it, and the vehicle reserve is currently empty because the town remounted two ambulances recently. 

There also is an unassigned fund balance of $502,279, which could be used to purchase vehicles, if needed.