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Aug 14, 2012 4:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance Open House Slated For Saturday

Aug 16, 2012 6:47 PM

The life of a Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance member can be a cramped one if he or she hangs out at the headquarters for any length of time, according to ambulance corps officials.

At the suggestion of the Southampton Village Board, to give the community an idea of just how cramped a space volunteers are working with, the ambulance corps will hold an open house at their base on Meeting House Lane on Saturday.

Since 2009, ambulance officials have been looking for a way to comfortably fit its growing membership, vehicles and medical supplies under one roof—and the current one-story building behind the First Presbyterian Church won’t do, they say. Now that the Southampton Fire Department headquarters on Hampton Road has been completed, officials say it is time to address the ambulance company’s needs.

With 40 members, the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance headquarters is buzzing with activity. According to former Assistant Chief Joe Hurley, holding meetings and training in the biggest room at the current headquarters is quite a feat, since the meeting room is less than 400 square feet. “Putting up 25 chairs fills this room,” he said this week. “It’s still our biggest space.”

Currently, each year the corps answers 650 calls, holds two member meetings and at least two training sessions each month, and also coordinates drills with the fire department, Mr. Hurley said. The corps also has started a monthly CPR training session for the public and are hoping to host EMT and continuing education classes, which would require seating for 35 people.

When members are at the headquarters waiting for calls, some on 12-hour shifts, there is only a small kitchen area along one wall, which includes a microwave, a sink and a few cabinets. Office space to run the operation and to store files is limited to one 228-square-foot room lined with desks.

When the building was built 40 years ago, it was big enough to store all of the corps’s equipment and vehicles, but now there’s “no place to put it,” according to Assistant Chief Mark Klinger. “As time goes by, the equipment changes and the space is no longer adequate.”

When members open the doors to the ambulances, or even the storage cabinets in the bays, the walkway is blocked. The building is not AHA compliant either.

Because there is not enough space to have a cache of medical supplies, they store only what they predict they will need within a certain period of time. Members are often forced to call Southampton Volunteer Ambulance or Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance for what they need when their supplier falls through with an order.

“We’ve made every attempt to make use of every available space,” Mr. Hurley said. Medical supplies are stored in cabinets, closets and even under the staircase that leads up to the building’s attic.

Unable to stash their big vehicles away like they can their bandages, members have said that parking and access to the headquarters is an issue that could be potentially dangerous to the community, since they use Main Street and Jobs Lane to get to most emergency situations. Ambulance drivers must back the vehicles into the barn from Meeting House Lane and must be wary of motorists who are pulling out of diagonal parking spaces on Main Street. Currently, the First Presbyterian Church of Southampton allows the corps to use its parking lot, which is often full during summer months.

SVVA officials believe they would still face the same difficulties even if they renovated their current headquarters on Meeting House Lane, a project that would cost about $4.1 million. Another possibility—renovating and moving into the fire department’s substation on Windmill Lane—could cost up to $5.1 million. The volunteers’ most desired option is a new 10,000-square-foot building on Windmill Lane adjacent to the Southampton Village Police station, which is estimated to cost approximately $4.9 million to $5.3 million, and would give the corps enough room to stretch out and share meeting and storage space with police.

At the suggestion of the Village Board, ambulance members will open their barn doors on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to taxpayers who would like to see firsthand what the SVVA is dealing with, and will make a presentation about their needs and plans for a new home at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt there’s a need of a new facility for the volunteer ambulance,” Village Trustee Richard Yastrzemski said in July. “We need to reeducate some and educate some who are brand new to this. People need to realize how inadequate our facility is. People need to see that.”

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No doubt that a newer and larger building is needed. Actually I can tell you that the present building is older than 40 years .. more likely 60+ years. I know it ws there in 1952. So get going guys, pony up for storage space for medical supplies.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Aug 15, 12 2:08 PM
I agree the space they are in now is an embarrassment, but a 10,000 sq ft stone building with tons of office space is a little ridiculous. Where is this 5 million dollars coming from?
I think the village should build village hall at the Windmill property include 5 garages and meeting area for the ambulance. The village could then bring the building dept there and sell the current village hall and probally pay for the whole construction with the proceeds.Just a thought to make evryone happy ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 16, 12 12:15 AM
my son had an accident in front of Burger King on his mortorcycle on 6/7/12 and there was a member of SVA across the street and good citizens pulled him out from under the car (making a right into BK from the LEFT lane and hit him) and the ambulance was there very quickly and the response at SH hospital with his arrival was unbelievable. CUDOS to SVA. Sent a check for their needed purchases with my gratitude. Give them space and a place where they can work they deserve it.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Aug 16, 12 7:55 PM
First of all, thank you for making a donation to the SVA. But the ambulance company that is seeking to build a new HQ is the SVVA. They cover the Village of Southampton. The SVA, which helped your son, is a different organization and covers the unincorporated areas of Southampton, Water Mill and North Sea. Yes, I know it's confusing.
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Aug 17, 12 11:01 AM
PS help if you can since if you don't help won't be there when needed
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Aug 16, 12 7:57 PM
I hope the SVVA get this building........they do a great job ALWAYS!
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Aug 18, 12 9:34 AM