Wading River Fire Deptartment EMT Jamol Mardonov, left, and paramedic Matthew Cahill...

Wading River Fire Deptartment EMT Jamol Mardonov, left, and paramedic Matthew Cahill have responded to emergency calls at the Peconic Ice Rinks in Calverton. Credit: Tom Lambui

A newly inked agreement clarifies which emergency department should respond to 911 calls at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Riverhead Town officials took a closer look at emergency responses to the site after two new recreation facilities opened there in November. The town teamed up with the Peconic Hockey Foundation to open Peconic Ice Rinks and Scott’s Pointe, a privately owned indoor adventure park with a 22-acre manmade lake for outdoor water sports.

"If there is a choking victim, if someone gets hit in the head with a puck, ... I want to know who’s gonna get there the fastest,” Councilman Ken Rothwell said at a Jan. 25 meeting where emergency department leaders met with the town board to discuss response times.

Portions of the 2,900-acre EPCAL property are split among three neighboring emergency districts: Riverhead, Wading River and Manorville. On paper, both recreation centers fall within the Manorville Fire District, which does not have an ambulance and contracts with the Riverhead ambulance agency for coverage. But entrances to both centers, on Middle Country Road, are in Wading River’s fire district.


3: Number of emergency districts that share coverage of the EPCAL site

7: Average minutes it takes Riverhead to respond to EPCAL

4: Minutes it takes Wading River to arrive

78: Miles covered by Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

9.8: Miles covered by Wading River

Source: Town of Riverhead

With both Riverhead and Wading River responding separately to calls over the past three months, the town board reviewed the issue to develop official emergency protocols and clear up what Rothwell said is "confusion" over who is ultimately responsible for calls.

Under a mutual aid agreement reached Jan. 29, Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Wading River Fire District both will be dispatched to calls. Officials hope the collaboration will bring faster response times and avoid rewriting district lines that were created before development at EPCAL.

Prior to the agreement, Rothwell said, dispatchers were unsure which department to activate. According to the agreement, both will respond to urgent emergencies. Minor calls will be handled by Riverhead, he said.

“Wading River is two traffic lights away and [the Riverhead ambulance] is 13 traffic lights away,” Rothwell said. 

Riverhead ambulance officials said they are capable of responding quickly to the park. 

Ambulance board president Garrett Lake said the agency answered 5,100 calls in 2023 and have four ambulances and a 24-hour paramedic on duty.

Neither department noted a rise in 911 calls to the facilities since they opened.

Lake cited response times of seven and nine minutes to two recent calls at the park for broken bones.

“I just don’t see how anybody would be faster than us,” he said.

Officials from Wading River say they’re equally equipped to handle calls from the facilities.

“We’re right around the corner — we can get there in four,” Wading River Fire Commissioner Greg Meyer said in an interview.

He said the department, which answered 1,400 calls last year, has enough volunteers and trained medics to respond to the site with its two ambulances.

The agreement was shared with Riverhead Police Department and the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, which dispatches calls to the respective agencies.

Lake said the mutual aid agreement will help ensure the site is prepared, especially in the busy summer months.

“It’s going to be active,” he said of the sports complexes. “With that is going to come injuries.”

Riverhead’s ambulance district covers about 78 square miles, compared with just under 10 covered by the Wading River Fire District.

Other emergency leaders raised concerns about development at EPCAL, which also has an industrial park and addiction treatment facility.

Manorville fire commissioner Kenneth McLean said the district should have been provided plans for both sports facilities before they opened.

“The water park was built — surprise, you have a water park. The skate rink was built and surprise, you have a skate rink,” he said. "I have no idea the chemicals they're using, how they're chilling the ice."

McLean’s concerns come after an ammonia leak at Bethpage Ice Rink forced an emergency evacuation and left the facility closed for a week.

The chemical leaked from a compressor that is used to make ice at the rink, Newsday previously reported.

“The more forearmed you are, you know what’s going on, where to look,” McLean said in an interview.

Town officials agreed to keep emergency agencies in the loop on development plans at the site.

The mutual aid agreement won’t impact either department’s finances, officials said. It doesn’t address costs to provide services or potential reimbursement for billing. Whichever department that arrives at the scene first will handle the incident and the other may be called off.

Rothwell said the town plans to monitor response times of both departments to the facility over the next several months.

If one department is consistently beating the other, Rothwell said the town will revisit the discussion.

In the meantime, he said the agreement ensures the site is covered during emergencies.

“Timing is everything,” Rothwell said. “It helps you sleep at night.”

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