William H. Larkin, the former coordinator of Emergency Medical Services for Suffolk's Department of Health and a 40-year volunteer firefighter, has died after a long illness. He was 67.
Larkin started his career as an ambulance services consultant in 1974, and was promoted to coordinator of emergency medical services for the Suffolk County Department of Health. While at that position, he was responsible for modernizing equipment, including separating radio frequencies for Medcom, the medical side of Long Island's fire departments, according to Warren Horst, Suffolk County Chief of Fire Rescue Services.
"There are certainly people that are truly dedicated, and he was 100 percent dedicated," Horst said. "It was not only his career . . . it was his personal passion."
Larkin retired from his county position in August 2002.
A longtime Holbrook Fire Department volunteer, Larkin served as the district's treasurer from 1991 until his death. The department named him an honorary chief in 2007, a recognition that meant a lot to him, said his son, Kraig Larkin of Holbrook. He was also named Holbrook Fire Department's "Fireman of the Year" in 1979, and received the Nassau-Suffolk Regional EMS Council's "EMS Leadership Award" in 1981.
Under the leadership of then-Holbrook Chief Joseph Williams, now commissioner of the county's fire and rescue emergency services, Larkin helped create the more practical system of separating duties of firefighters and ambulance responders, allowing volunteers to serve as emergency medical technicians while not having to train to fight fires. As medical calls overtook fire alarms, that system became the model for other departments, said Horst and Holbrook Fire Commissioner Michael Timo.
"The service he gave to the people of Suffolk County is immeasurable," Timo said. "He was the backbone of the EMS system for a lot of the early years."
Among Horst's many contributions to the fire department service was the establishment of the Holbrook Volunteer Exempt Fireman's Benevolent Association, where he was a charter member and president at the time of his death. The fund helps department volunteers in distress, said his son. He also was a member of the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighter's Emerald Society and founding member of the Islip Town Ambulance Rescue Association.
Larkin was part of the original team to evaluate and coordinate emergency services for the newly opened MacArthur Airport, and some of those plans are still in place, Timo and Horst said.
In addition to his son Kraig, Larkin is survived by his wife, Sharon Larkin of Holbrook; mother Ruth Larkin of North Bellmore; brothers Marx Larkin of Mastic and Donald Larkin of North Bellmore; sons Kevin Larkin of Woodside, Keith Larkin of Bayport, and Kyle Larkin of Holbrook; daughter Keri Vita of Bayport; and seven grandchildren.