The Rockville Centre Board of Trustees approved a deal on Nov. 5 that would allow North Shore Long Island Jewish to provide backup ambulance service for the village emergency services on weeknights and weekends.
The use of North Shore LIJ ambulances as backups to Rockville Centre Fire Department’s own emergency ambulance service is an addition to an agreement already in place that sees North Shore as the primary responder during weekday hours, when RVCFD volunteer numbers are at their smallest.
The commanding officer of the Nassau County Emergency Ambulance Bureau approached RVCFD Chief John Busching several months ago to discuss the dispatch procedures that had been in place. According to Busching, the officer told him that it seemed inefficient to have the county back up the village’s ambulance service.
“The county was responding along with our ambulances,” Busching explained. “They had a limited amount of resources and he wanted to see how we could stop that practice. I mentioned it to North Shore, and they said ‘we’ll expand our coverage and back you up.’”
According to Village Attorney Thomas Levin, the new contract with North Shore LIJ is actually half of what it had been previously. The contract will run for a 30-month term, the village’s maximum payment will be $54,250 and it will cover 726 emergency calls by the North Shore ambulance service. According to Levin, North Shore bills privately for their services, so the more calls they answer, the more money they could potentially make. For that reason, for every call beyond the 726, the village’s payment to North Shore decreases.
“The village is doing this to make sure they can provide the emergency services necessary for the residents,” Levin said. “Our police won’t have to go with North Shore ambulances as they go to the hospital, so it saves the village a lot of money as well.”
According to Busching, there had been some dissent among the volunteers as to whether the contract with North Shore was necessary, but once it went to the Fire Council, made up of 14 wardens and the three fire chiefs, they approved the new contract.
“There are 330 people in the fire department and there will be times when not everyone agrees on what is a better operational procedure,” Busching said. “The department as a whole felt that this was a better way to do it.”
Busching added that North Shore’s service was very helpful during their coverage of Hurricane Sandy.
“We knew that the county was going to be unavailable because they cover a much larger area and would be going to areas where they were the primary responder,” Busching said, “and so we reached out to North Shore and asked for overnight backup coverage. They said yes and we ended up using them. Maybe it’s not the system for everyone, but what we’ve seen, I think it’s working very well.”