When officials at the Roslyn Rescue Fire Company began planning for the start of an ambulance service in the early part of 1991, an important financial challenge was before them. An ambulance and the requisite lifesaving equipment were not in the annual budget of the all-volunteer fire company.
Roslyn Rescue's newest EMS Responder Unit 569 (foreground) pictured in front of its older sibling, a 2004 model. The new unit, a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe, will be based out of Station 3, on Locust Street in Greenvale.
"We searched the used equipment dealers and found a used ambulance and cardiac monitor/defibrillator, and were fortunate to have a neighboring fire department donate some old supplies," recalled ex-Captain Frank Califano, a former commanding officer of the fire company's emergency medical service, who worked on the committee to form the service more than 15 years ago. "We wanted the community to have a fire department-based EMS program to supplement the ambulance service being provided by the Nassau County Police Department and we already had the trained personnel - we just needed the ambulance and equipment," he added.
Today, that fledgling service has grown in all directions. In the last decade, EMS personnel from Roslyn Rescue have combined forces with their firefighting partners at the Roslyn Highlands Fire Company, and personnel from both groups now man two advanced life support ambulances and four first responder units, known in fire service parlance as "fly cars" because they ferry paramedics and EMT's to the scene of medical emergencies and typically arrive in advance of the ambulance to begin provided care. Responses are up considerably since 1991, as the strain on the 911 EMS system has intensified, according to Capt. Jon Sendach, a department spokesperson.
While much has changed, the need for capital equipment and the challenges of funding it remain a constant concern for fire company administrators. Thanks to generous support from the Alvin and Dorothy Schwartz Foundation, Roslyn EMS last month took delivery of three new cardiac monitors/defibrillators, and 15 new automated external defibrillators (AED's), as well as a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe equipped as a first responder unit.
The Alvin and Dorothy Schwartz Foundation has been a longtime benefactor of Roslyn Rescue and was formed by the parents of former Roslyn Rescue emergency medical technician, Jane Stein. An earlier donation by the foundation in 2004 helped fund a replacement ambulance and cardiac monitor, and in recognition of her ongoing support to Roslyn Rescue, the department bestowed on Mrs. Stein the rank of honorary EMS chief at a dedication ceremony for the new ambulance that spring.
"This equipment is extremely advanced and will allow our paramedics and EMT's to provide the highest level of emergency care to the public," said Roslyn Rescue EMS Capt. Adam Levy, a career paramedic who currently heads the department's emergency medical service, following a recent in-service training on the new equipment. Capt. Levy pointed out that this equipment replaces cardiac monitors and defibrillators on fire trucks and ambulances, as well as other department vehicles, that were about seven years old, and that the department researched and secured favorable trade-in values on the old equipment.
The new responder unit received a warm welcome as well.
"From an operational and logistics perspective, we rely heavily on the responder units to cover a large response area," explained Lt. Sam Williams, an EMS supervisor who headed the group that specified and designed the new responder unit. "The new truck replaces one that was over 10 years old and was really getting tired," he added. The Roslyn Fire Protection District includes coverage of parts of 10 municipalities, and is among the largest such territories in Nassau County in terms of square miles covered.
Following a recent training on the new equipment with firefighters and EMS personnel, an elated Capt. Levy simply grinned. "I am really impressed with the kind of technology we are putting in the hands of our emergency responders, and we couldn't be more grateful to the Alvin and Dorothy Schwartz Foundation," he said.