The Community Ambulance Company in Sayville opened its doors Sunday morning as a crowd watched seven emergency vehicles glide down Lakeland Avenue and into their parking bays at the new $7.3 million site.
For the past six decades, the ambulance company operated out of a 3,800-square-foot building on Swayze Street that only had two ambulance bays, forcing officials to park some vehicles at Long Island MacArthur Airport and the Bohemia Fire Department. Now, the 22,000-square-foot facility easily fits each truck on the ground floor of the two-story building.
"Today our dream, 64 years in the making, is finally becoming a reality," Ambulance Chief Chris Gonzales said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the new structure.
This location -- about 1.5 miles north of the old site -- will also make it easier for the 100 volunteer emergency medical service members to respond to some 4,000 calls each year, department treasurer Marc MacDonnell said.
About 2,800 calls each year are for emergencies north of the Long Island Rail Road's Montauk line. Before, ambulances coming from the old building south of the tracks faced getting stopped at a lowered gate crossing 43 times each day, MacDonnell said.
"We can get to many more places much faster," MacDonnell said. "This has increased our accessibility to get to calls."
Two ambulance company charter members -- Barney Loughlin, 89, of Sayville, and Bill Fredericks, attended the ceremony and helped cut a ribbon to one of the ambulance bays.
"They do 4,000 calls a year now; we did one a month," Loughlin, a former Sayville fire chief, said with a laugh. "It's very nice."
The Community Ambulance Company purchased the land for about $300,000 from the Town of Islip in 2012, according to MacDonnell. The town was forced to raise taxes that year in the Sayville Ambulance District in order to fund the project, making yearly tax payments increase to about $110 from $73 per average household, a nearly 50 percent jump, he said.