Over a year after Sandy, two shiny new ambulances pulled up to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department to replace the ones the storm took away.
“Things like this bring back a positive morale,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who got a ride in one of the new rigs after they were delivered on Thursday.
“Anything we can do to get back to the point of how we were before Sandy, or better than we were before Sandy,” he said.
Before the superstorm, the crew moved one ambulance from the beach town, which is below sea level, to “higher ground” at the Rockwood Park Jewish Center on 84th Street. It survived, but sustained some damage. The other truck was unsalvageable.
After the floods ravaged West Hamilton Beach, the roughly 45-man department received ambulance donations from Long Island and has since been operating status-quo with two ambulances.
But now, more safety and security has been delivered with the brand new rigs, upping West Hamilton Beach’s ambulance count to four.
“This will be a help to the community like everything else,” said Jonah Cohen, the department’s fire chief.
Now, the emergency crew can work without worrying about a vehicle breaking down, Cohen said.
“They’re first responders who are in a unique, isolated area,” Addabbo said. “When there’s any kind of emergency, severe storm, everyone looks to them. I’m speechless by the work they do here.”
The fire department needs two ambulances to operate efficiently. They will primarily use the new vehicles, keep one for back-up and donate the last to another volunteer fire department.
“To get two rigs that could help in a life-endangering situation, this is a life-changer,” Addabbo said.