HISTORY of the SOUTH COUNTRY AMBULANCE COMPANY
At a regular monthly meeting of the Brookhaven Fire Company, a committee of six men was given the authorization to start an ambulance company. The committee members were Alex Kosenkraneus, Charles Waldron, Richard Lyons, Robert Lyons, Jr., James Kinsella and John Kulick. The Fire District disapproved the expenditure of $84.00 for the purchase of a 1929 Kissel ambulance from Greenport Hospital. On a motion made by Robert Lyons, Jr., $84.00 was collected from the members present. The Brookhaven Ambulance Company was formed on June 9, 1940. At the time, it was felt that the company could better serve the community if it was a separate unit from the Fire Company.
July 2, 1940: Corporation papers were filed with the State of New York. The Corporation would be known as the Brookhaven Ambulance Company, Inc. The first corporation directors were President, Alex Kosenkraneus; Secretary, James Kinsella; Treasurer, John Kulak. The Corporations Attorney was Douglas E. Brown from Bellport. The Company's First Aid Instructors were Dr. Jones from Center Moriches and Dr.Horristein from Bellport.
The ambulance would be stored at Alex Kosenkraneus' gas station on South Country Road with meetings held at the firehouse.
At this time the only other ambulances in the area were from Patchogue and East Moriches. Brookhaven Ambulance Company became responsible for the areas of Yaphank, East Patchogue, Hagerman, and Bellport.
July 17, 1940: The first ambulance call. The patient was from Brentwood and was taken from the fireman's tournament in Patchogue to his home.
* To support the Ambulance Company, yearly subscription tickets of $2.00 were sold to area families.
1945: A fire destroyed the Brookhaven Fire House. Monthly meetings were held at the Brookhaven elementary school until the new firehouse on Montauk Highway was completed in 1946.
1946: With the completion of the new firehouse, the Board of Fire Commissioners invited the ambulance company to keep the ambulance there in a truck bay.
February 19, 1948: The Kissel ambulance is retired and the company purchases a 1938 LaSalle ambulance from the Patchogue Ambulance Company for $1,000.00. The Kissel was sold to Dr. Frank Calabro, Sr. and Bayview Hospital in Mastic Beach.
1948: Frank Champlain started the Brookhaven Village Blood Bank with the Ambulance Company as the sponsor. This gave the residents of the Hamlet the availability of blood if needed.
1954: A new Cadillac ambulance is purchased for about $12,000.00.
January 1955: With the number of ambulance calls increasing, Brookhaven Ambulance Company was forced to drop covering the Bellport area. Bellport Ambulance Company was formed to cover the Bellport and part of the East Patchogue area.
February 1955: A radio on fire department frequency is installed into the ambulance. This now gave the ambulance direct radio contact throughout Suffolk County.
June 1955: District boundaries for the Brookhaven and Bellport Ambulance Companies were put into effect. Boundaries for mutual aid were also set up between the East Moriches, Mastic Beach, Bellport and Brookhaven Ambulance Companies.
July 1955: The fifteenth anniversary of the Brookhaven Ambulance Company was celebrated with the members and their spouses going out to dinner at the Patchogue Hotel.
January 1956: Brookhaven Memorial Hospital was opened. This meant that the Ambulance Company did not have to transport patients to Mather Memorial in Port Jefferson or to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.
1958: A hospital bed was donated to the ambulance company in the memory of member Frank Champlain by his wife. This hospital bed was the start of the company's loan out equipment and supplies for the residents of the community. The future brought many other donations for use, including wheelchairs and walkers.
1961: With ambulance calls in our area still on the rise, the company advised the Yaphank Fire Department that it had to drop emergency coverage of the Yaphank area.
1961: The first meeting of the Brookhaven Town Ambulance Association was attended by Rev. Richard Gray and Murray Fink. Rev. Gray was elected as the Association's first President and Joseph Cossia from Patchogue Ambulance was elected Vice-President.
1962: All ambulance companies in the Town of Brookhaven as well as each hospital began securing their own radios for communications.
March 1963: The Bellport High School fire. The Ambulance Company was one of the first on the scene. Many problems were experienced. Most notable problems were found with the transportation of patients and reception at the hospital. Many conferences were held with various groups throughout the town to formulate new plans for any large-scale movement of victims in the future.
March 1964: A new International ambulance is put into service. It was purchased new from the Brookhaven Garage for $6,456.28 and paid for by Mrs. Elizabeth Morrow. The old Cadillac was sold to the Wading River Fire Department for $750.00.
* Each member of the ambulance company was given small oxygen tanks and masks through a donation by Mrs. Mae Strickland in the memory of company member Willis Strickland.
December 1964: A by-law was amended to include life members as those members who served 25 years or more. The first life member was James Kinsella.
1965: Discussions began about the company owning its own building. Ideas were put off for another 2 years.
1966: The company started its own blood bank for its members and their family.
1967: The first drawings of the company building were shown at the April meeting. Various pieces of property were investigated for purchase.
1968: The company purchased property on Seeley Street from Walter Zukowski for $4,000.00. A mortgage of $10,000.00 was approved by the Company Directors to be held at Union Savings Bank in Patchogue. Rev. Richard Gray was put in charge of all phases of the building.
April 13, 1969: At 2:00 P.M. ground was broken by President Murray Fink for the new Brookhaven Ambulance Company, Inc. building. Over the following year, many local residents donated their time and resources towards the construction of the building. Outside contractors were used for the mason work and heating. The company members did the rest of the building construction and landscaping themselves. The work was done mostly on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Many members put forth their own money towards the building.
June 14, 1970: The Brookhaven Ambulance Company officially dedicates its new headquarters at 32 Seeley Street with an open house for the community. A home for the company is finally a reality.
November 1970: Emergency Medical Technician courses begin being offered at Suffolk Community College. Michael l1ink is the company's first EMT.
November 1, 1971: A blue spruce was donated to the company by Walter Kalinowski to be planted to the left of the garage.
February 1973: The new Suffolk County alert system was put into place.
* The company's first female member, Dot Trigg was voted in.
* The Fire Department asks the Ambulance Company to change the ambulance county identifier from 5-3-9 to 5-3-16.
April 1974: The new 911 system began in Suffolk County. In an emergency, instead of dialing "O" (Operator), you dialed 911 for the Police instead.
* With daytime calls increasing the Company held its first membership drive for daytime members.
January 1975: Suffolk County Emergency Medical Services start teaching New York State EMT courses. Each course lasted 81 hours.
May 1975: MedCom, the Suffolk County ambulance dispatch system gets put into place.
* A committee was formed to look into purchasing a van type ambulance.
September 1975: A new Horton Van type ambulance is purchased for $18,000.00 by the company.
* The Advanced Life Support system was started in Suffolk County.
December 1975: The first radio monitor was placed in Murray Finks home for quick telephone dispatching at night.
January 1976: The company purchased its first four "Spirit" pagers for the daytime members. MedCom would dispatch all emergency calls through these pagers.
* The new Horton ambulance was dedicated and placed into service this month.
* Because of the hours they spent dispatching calls day and night to the members of the company, all of the telephone dispatchers of the Brookhaven Ambulance Company are voted in as Honorary Members.
April 1976: The International ambulance was sold to Middle Island Fire Department for $1,500.00.
1977: Shirley Community Ambulance Company was formed to our East to cover the Shirley area from the West side of William Floyd Parkway to the East bank of the Carmans River. This area was originally covered by the Mastic Ambulance Company until January 1, 1978.
* James Still donated a flagpole that will stand in front of the ambulance headquarters.
* Suffolk County designated the first ambulance coordinators. They were Joe Coccia, Ed Ramshaw, and Michael Fink.
1978: Brookhaven Town Ambulance Association President Murray Fink starts to work with Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Bill Bianchi on writing a bill for the formation of ambulance tax districts.
August 1978: Gov. Hugh Carey signs the Ambulance Tax District bill into law.
* A new Hospital on the grounds of Stony Brook University is being built. This hospital will be a state of the art teaching facility and trauma center that will serve Suffolk County.
May 1979: Because the ambulance company found it was having difficulties paying bills on donation monies, the membership voted to apply to become an ambulance tax district.
June 1980: The company officers attended the June Brookhaven Village Association meeting to explain the reasons why the company needed to become a tax district. The association membership gave its backing. It was agreed that one member from the Village Association would sit as a representative on the Ambulance District Executive Board.
* Attorney Tim Glynn from Setauket was attained as the Company Attorney.
* Our first budget was drafted by the Board of Directors and went to the Brookhaven Town Board for review. The budget was for $32,000.00.
November 1980: With the Suffolk County Advanced Life Support System in place, 2 EMTs enroll in advanced classes and receive their certification. Our first AEMTs were Allen Goodman and Larry Fink. They will ride with Shirley Ambulance until our equipment arrives.
June 1981: The company became a State certified ambulance service.
September 1981: Our ALS equipment arrives and is put into service.October 5, 1981: The ambulance company officially became a tax district.
* The Brookhaven Fire Department receives its first Hurst tool. It will help to quickly extricate patients pinned in motor
November 1981: The ambulance company purchases enough "Spirit" type pagers for all the members. The telephone dl8patch system becomes a thing of the past! Night and weekend crews are established.
April 1982: Company purchases its first MAST suit.
November 1982: Murray Fink starts to work with Sen. Cooke to write a bill establishing ambulance districts municipallt!os along the same lines as the fire districts. This bill would never come to pass.
January 1983: Richard Lyons retires as the company treasurer after 43 years of service.
April 1983: The mortgage on the ambulance building is paid off. A combination surprise retirement dinner for Richard Lyo11s and a "mortgage burning" ceremony is held.
July 1983: A new Horton Modular ambulance is ordered that would meet the needs and house all our equipment.
November 8, 1983: The ambulance company changes its Suffolk County identifier from 5-3-16 to 5- 43-16. This helps the <lispatchers at Med-Com differentiate the community ambulances from the fire department ambulances.
November 1983: The company members decide to hold annual installation dinners starting in 1984.
* Grucci Fireworks factory explodes in Bellport killing 2 people. The Ambulance Company responds immediately with equipment, supplies, and members to assist the Bellport Ambulance Company.
January 8, 1984: The new Horton ambulance was placed into service. The Horton Van was sold to a private ambulance firm in Pennsylvania for $4,000.00.
March 10, 1984: The ambulance company's first annual installation dinner is held at the Middle Island Country Club.
May J 984: The Company holds an open house for the community with blood pressure testing and a CPR demo.
August 1984: The burn center opens at University Hospital at Stony Brook.
198G: The company is outgrowing the building. The Board of Directors decides to hire Jim Taylor to build an addition out the back to accommodate 2 new rooms. One would be the officer's office with the other becoming a library and study for the members.
September 1987: The new addition is completed and dedicated. A new alarm system is installed in the building as a deterrent to any break-inss or theft.
1988: With the Hepatitis B disease on the rise, Suffolk County offered free Hepatitis B vaccinations to any pre-hospital care workers.
* Suffolk County Police Department introduces their new helicopter for pre-hospital care use for critical patients. These patients will be transported to University Hospital at Stony Brook's Trauma Center.
1989: Suffolk County Health Department hires Dr. Joseph Sciammarella as the new Medical Director for the EMS System.
* A new Horton Modular Ambulance is ordered.
January 1990: The new ambulance (5-43-17) is placed into service. There were many discussions on whether to sell the I 083 Horton or to keep it as a second ambulance.
* It was decided that because of the increase in call volume and that we had enough members to man the second ambulance, the company would keep 5-43-16. For the first time in history, the company would maintain 2 ambulances.
February 1990: The ambulance company begins a mutual aid agreement with Bellport Ambulance Company during the daytime hours.
* The Board of Directors hire a "Houseman" to work during the hours of 5 A.M. to 4 P.M. This employee will be responsible for the upkeep on the ambulances, do the company purchasing and keep up with the buildings and grounds. The other would be to respond to all ambulance emergencies during those hours.
June 1990: The Brookhaven Ambulance Company celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a "dinner-dance" aboard the Bay Mist in Patchogue. An open house invitation is sent to all residents of the community. "Neighbor Helping Neighbor" becomes the company motto.
1991: New "Class A" uniforms were ordered for all members. Each member received a green jacket, white shirt; tan pants, or for the women tan skirts and tie. These uniforms would be worn for all parades, funerals and official meetings or conventions.
1992: University Hospital at Stony Brook starts to offer NYS Paramedic courses. EMT Greg Miglino, Jr. is the first member to graduate from the program.
1993: The Ambulance Company acquires a Jeep Cherokee to be a first responder unit (5-43-80). This unit is designed to be the first on the scene with an EMT or AEMT to stabilize the patient prior to the arrival of the ambulance.
* A Youth Squad is organized by a few of the members. The squad stays together for 3 years and folds.
1994: A new Chevy Tahoe is purchased as a first responder to replace the Jeep Cherokee.
August 1995: A week of "wildfires" in Rocky Point and then in Westhampton keep the fire and ambulance services in Suffolk County busy. The fire in Westhampton becomes known as the "Sunrise" Fire. One of the worst the County has ever had.
1996: A second responder, a Chevrolet Blazer, 5-43-81, is purchased.
* A new Med-Tec ambulance is purchased to replace 5-43-16.
* With the increase in membership, the company began to outgrow the building.
* The company purchases 2 mountain bikes and forms a "bike team”.
July 1996: TWA Flight 800 on its way to Paris, France explodes over the Atlantic Ocean near Moriches with 239 people on board. The Ambulance Company responds to assist at the scene. All 239 people perish.
* The Board of Directors voted to add an addition to the building which would include office space and the basement was made into sleeping quarters and a TV room for the membership. This would be completed in the fall of 1996.
1997: EMS continues to expand in Suffolk County and the ambulance company members are trained in 12 lead EKG's.
Spring 1997: For many years there was a question of how we would respond if there was an emergency water rescue on the Carman's River or Bellport Bay. That was answered when the Ambulance Company purchased and placed into service a 22 - foot long motor boat. Company members received water rescue certification.
* The Ambulance Company with the help from the Suffolk County Legislature receives a grant to purchase bicycle helmets to distribute to all third graders at the Brookhaven Elementary School.
1999: A grant is received from the Suffolk County Legislature for the purchase of 2 quads to be used in Southaven Park and when responding to calls at the beach or when a patient is unreachable by the ambulance off the road.
* A new Chevrolet suburban is purchased. All three first responders will be utilized, one being used as a runabout.
July 2000: The Brookhaven Ambulance Company celebrates its 60th Anniversary and embarks on a new beginning. The combining of the Brookhaven, Bellport and Hagerman Ambulance Companies to form the South Country Ambulance District will benefit all that live, work or play in the area. This district encompasses much of the original area that the Brookhaven Ambulance Company covered in 1940. May the new district continue to provide the quality pre-hospital care that the Brookhaven Ambulance Company has consistently provided for the past 60 years.
(Information from top to this point was compiled and presented in a pamphlet to the membership at the 60th Anniversary Installation Dinner by Ex-Chief Ellen B. Komosinski)
(**History project is a continuing effort. Up-to-date history will be added as it is compiled.**)