The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department welcomed two new members of their crew last Thursday.
But they weren’t human members; they were two new twin ambulances.
The vehicles, their freshly-applied paint glistening in the winter sun, sat in the department’s parking lot Thursday as members of the department milled around the twin vehicles, glancing insides the interior, taking whiffs of the new car scent that permeated from the warm inside. West Hamilton VFD Chief Jonah Cohen inspected the cubbies of one of the ambulances and checked out the vehicle’s electrical system. Then members of the department drove the two ambulances several blocks away to Hamilton Park to pose for a photo with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park).
The new $153,000 ambulances, purchased by the department, increase its fleet to nine — five ambulances and four fire trucks. Some of the vehicles are donations from other volunteer fire departments that were given to West Hamilton Beach after it lost all but one of its vehicles when the department’s firehouse was flooded in Hurricane Sandy last year. Volunteers from the department were on duty during the storm and were able to save two women from the rising floodwaters in their Hamilton Beach home.
They will allow the department to take its oldest vehicle — the ambulance that survived Sandy because it was parked on higher ground — out of service, according to WHBVFD Treasurer Mitch Udowitch. One of the department’s other ambulances was given to them by the East Farmingdale Volunteer Fire Department in Suffolk County. Several other fire companies from as far away as Mississippi also donated vehicles to the WHBVFD after Sandy and area businesses, including Duane Reade, donated money to the department, which helped pay for the new ambulances.
The vollies often respond to calls for assistance made directly to them, but they also sometimes work alongside the FDNY.
Recently, the department responded to the fatal accident at 159th Avenue and 98th Street that killed a Glendale resident. The victim’s passenger was taken by one of West Hamilton Beach’s ambulances to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where his injuries were treated.