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Queens Chronicle

Idling ambulances cause headaches

Adjacent residents claim running engines, foul language bothersome

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:57 am, Thu May 22, 2014.

Living next to the emergency room of a hospital won’t make for the quietest household, but some Forest Hills residents are sick of the excess noise caused by ambulances parked just feet from their windows.

A large sign hanging on the wall of the ambulance entrance at Forest Hills Hospital, a North Shore-LIJ affiliate, at 102-01 66 Road, reads “No idling.”

Area resident Michael Levin, who lives in the apartment building at 66-12 102 St. directly across from the emergency room, says the drivers not only idle the ambulances’ engines at all hours of the night, but they unnecessarily blare their sirens and leave cigarette butts on the building’s grounds.

“There’s idling here at 1 a.m., midnight, they don’t care,” Levin said. “Let’s think about the people around here. They’re sleeping. They need to work the next day.”

Levin, who has lived in his Forest Hills apartment with his wife for the last 13 years, says the disturbances have gotten worse over the last year.

He understands there is a heightened noise level that comes with ambulances going to and from the 222-bed hospital, but he says there is no need for the drivers to talk loudly over the ambulances’ radios to one another or to communicate through siren wails at night.

However, a recent experiment on the dangers of idling diesel engines Levin conducted with his wife worried him the most.

“At 7 or 8 a.m., they were idling,” he said. “We put a white plate in the kitchen window in the morning and by the end of the day, it had all black dots on it.”

Levin isn’t the only resident in his building with such complaints.

A fellow tenant named Maryann, who didn’t reveal her last name, also expressed her displeasure over the allegedly disruptive ambulance drivers.

“They are constantly talking to each other and they say disgusting things,” she said. “They call each other names back and forth, it’s really bad.”

Two ambulance drivers approached by the Chronicle said they were not allowed to provide comment, but North Shore-LIJ spokesman Terry Lyman said that while he hasn’t heard of any previous noise complaints, the hospital will look into the matter.

“It’s our goal to be a good neighbor in the community,” Lyman said. “Our hospital emergency department representatives will be speaking to the ambulance operators to reinforce trying to keep down the noise level and avoid idling whenever possible.”

Levin accused the drivers of conversing with each other over the vehicles’ loudspeakers, but Lyman said ambulances don’t have such devices. Instead, it may have been a case of drivers using radios to talk back and forth with the ambulance windows rolled down.

“He might be hearing radio transmissions,” Lyman said. “There may have been cases where some of them have their windows down and people might hear the transmissions, but they don’t really have loudspeakers.”

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