After 30 years, countless relocations and a fire that nearly wiped it off the map, the Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps will finally have a permanent home built at its previous location in Floral Park.
According to Ted Rabinowitz, president of the ambulance corps, the fire that destroyed the old site more than two years ago, was the impetus for a new and much larger headquarters for the organization.
“Now we won’t call it a house anymore. It’s a facility,” said Rabinowitz, who has been a member since 1975.
The fire, which occurred in April of 1999, started in the basement after the crew left. The fire marshal attributed the cause to a light fixture in the basement, which, along with the first floor, was destroyed.
The new building, located at Union Turnpike and 257th Street, will have two floors and will include two garages for the ambulances, a dispatch and crew area, offices and training areas for Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation, Emergency Medical Training and Certified First Responder classes. Construction is expected to be completed by May.
Rabinowitz’s wife, Judy, who has been a member of the organization for over 20 years, said the new building is eagerly anticipated and long overdue.
“We are proud that we are finally doing this,” she said. “It’s a wonderful thing because we will now have a lot more exposure and better conditions to work in.”
Although plans for the facility were submitted to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals in 1999, construction only began a few weeks ago.
“We were hoping for approval to be zoned as a firehouse, which we finally got,” Rabinowitz said.
Firehouse zoning excludes handicapped accessibility, which would have required a costly elevator. According to Rabinowitz, there was no need for an elevator since volunteers must be able to walk up stairs.
Currently, the organization is being run out of a ground-floor apartment behind the oval at 74th Avenue and 260th Street, where it was started in the early 1970s.
Major funding and support from local politicians like State Senator Frank Padavan, who has secured $200,000 for the organization, has made the construction possible.
But Rabinowitz says more funding is necessary for the building’s completion. “We are hoping for the state budget to be settled soon, so we can get more money to finish the basement.” That will cost close to $35,000.
He added that since September 11, insurance premiums have also risen, adding to the facility’s expenses.
The Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps serves New Hyde Park, Floral Park, Oakland Gardens, Bellerose and Glen Oaks. Currently, the organization includes close to 60 volunteers, including a youth corps, and responds to about 30 calls a month.
Since its inception, the ambulance corps has answered more than 22,000 calls. It is staffed on a regular basis on weekdays and around the clock on weekends.
For more information or for those interested in volunteering, the ambulance corps can be reached at 347-1637.