The Mastic Volunteer Ambulance Co. is finally getting a handle on its structural emergency.
With an aging facility that does not have enough space to house all the company's emergency vehicles, compounded by a significant increase in emergency calls in the past 25 years, the Mastic Volunteer Ambulance building is slated to undergo a $6 million renovation.
The face-lift, which will be financed by a 15-year bond will add a second floor and additional space to the structure at 1630 Montauk Hwy. in Mastic, which will grow to 12,000 square feet.
Mastic Beach Ambulance Chief Billy Dovale said the district ambulance service outgrew the 27-year-old facility years ago.
The building has three bays which house three ambulances, but two other ambulances "are rusting away outside," and there is no space for the department's van, Expedition and Tahoe truck, he said.
Ambulances, which are usually replaced every five years, cost almost $200,000, Dovale said.
"These kinds of things have to be housed; we're a 24-hour emergency business," said Dovale, 49, who has been with the volunteer ambulance service for about 30 years.
When the structure was built there were about 700 calls per year, but there were 2,610 calls last year, ranging from people sustaining scratches to cardiac arrests, Dovale said.
"God forbid the ambulance trucks breaking down during an emergency; we'll have a lawsuit," he said.
The building has leaky ceilings, outdated air-conditioning and costly electricity problems, which should be resolved with the refurbished building, Dovale said.
The ambulance company, which contracts with the town to provide life-saving operations, wanted to expand by having a bigger, more energy efficient building, the councilman said.
But Dovale said the money could have come faster. "What took you so long? This was 10 years in the making."
In addition to the emergency vehicles left outside, gators -- or wheels often used for stretchers -- are "sitting outside being destroyed by nature," Dovale said.
There are more than 78 volunteer members with the emergency service, seven of whom joined the force last month, he said.
The new building will have three drive-through bays, making room for six ambulance trucks. It will also include a workout room, training room, and mechanical and storage space.
While an official groundbreaking at the site is not expected until April, an unofficial one may be conducted in December, shortly before Dovale's two-year term ends. "I started this project, and I'm going to make sure I see it through," he said.