CEDAR BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)– As another beach season comes to an end, calls for better ambulance service are growing louder.
A heart attack claimed another life at a Long Island beach after the victim had to wait for an ambulance from the mainland.
CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff is demanding answers as a follow-up on the exclusive story.
“We were all listening for the sirens and they weren’t getting any closer,” Vicky Carter said.
Sitting on the bench named in memory of her late husband, Carter recalled the agonizing wait for an ambulance. It took more than a half hour.
“Seconds count, minutes count. We don’t have the luxury of waiting 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive,” she said.
They’d been camping at Cedar Beach when 54-year-old Tom Carter went into cardiac arrest. Crowds gathered to effort CPR while an ambulance was dispatched from 11 miles away.
“To think we have to wait for a volunteer ambulance service to come from the mainland to come to assist in a crisis is absurd,” Vicky Carter said.
Three years later, she’s fighting for a designated ambulance on Long Island’s barrier beaches and speaking out after seeing a petition created by another widow.
Mary Ann Mullady’s husband died last summer leaving a concert at Jones Beach. State Park Police administered CPR and a defibrillator to no avail. It took 18 minutes for an ambulance to arrive from the mainland.
“It’s not right, it’s not right, there’s going to be another tragedy,” Mullady said.
“The basic job of government is to keep people safe, especially when you are going to invite them down to your property,” New York State Senator Todd Kaminsky said.
After CBS2’s report earlier this summer, Kaminsky demanded a review of emergency medical response at Jones beach. State Parks officials provided a list of life saving equipment and personnel, and a proposal to tweak the hours an ambulance is on site.
But Kaminsky said that would still create gaps in coverage and contractually hours cant be shifted.
“I ask that they do a top to bottom review of what state resources might be necessary to have adequate number to respond to an emergency.right now we are no better off than we were after that last tragedy,” he said.
Emergency medical experts said it’s a regional challenge. Long Island’s geography makes it tough to cover the summer beach crowds accessible only via bridges.
“We do feel its adequate and obviously in the best of circumstances you’d like to have an ambulance stationed everywhere with paramedics all the time, but that’s not realistic or cost effective,” Suffolk County Director of EMS Robert Delagi said.
But Carter and Mullady believe with beach attendance booming, it’s time to re-think the risk.
Here’s a full statement from the State Parks Department:
There is an extensive emergency medical services system in place to rapidly respond to patrons and staff at Jones Beach State Park. Approximately 25 emergency medical technicians and over 232 lifeguards, trained and certified by the American Red Cross in CPR, First Aid and AED use, are assigned to the park. The park is equipped with more than 20 automated external defibrillators (AED’s) strategically placed throughout the park, assigned to the Park’s emergency response vehicles or park police vehicles. Furthermore State Parks partners with local emergency personnel such as Nassau County Police and the Wantaugh Fire Department to respond to emergencies both inside and outside the park. Live Nation, operator of the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater also maintains additional emergency services available to respond to medical emergencies in the park. State Parks is committed to working with our state and local partners to review and improve emergency medical services at all our facilities.
There is no law requiring an onsite ambulance at beaches, sporting events and concerts. The plan to spread the word about the gaps in coverage Sunday when they take part in the Jones Beach Heart Walk.