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Huntington Community First Aid Squad

Allison Russo-Elling/FDNY

Funeral services have been made for a nearly 30-year member of the Huntington Community First Aid Squad, Allison Russo-Elling.

Russo-Elling, in addition to her volunteer work in Huntington, was a lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department and a 24-year veteran of the FDNY. She was also a 9/11 first responder.

The lieutenant was attacked and stabbed multiple times while walking in Astoria, Queens, while on duty at FDNY’s EMS Station on Sept. 29. She was brought to Mount Sinai Queens Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

She was appointed to the FDNY as an EMT in 1998, according to the FDNY, and promoted to paramedic in 2002. She became a lieutenant in 2016.

Russo, a longtime Town of Huntington resident, joined the Huntington Community First Aid Squad in November 1992, according to the HCFAS Facebook page. She was also a day captain for 13 years. It was during her time with the first aid squad that she became an EMT.

THE HCFAS posted on its Facebook page that she was “loved by so many at HCFAS. She will be dearly missed by everyone, but her legacy will live within our hearts forever.”

In addition to her work within the Huntington community, she was a 24-year veteran of the FDNY, joining as an EMT in 1998.

Russo’s wake will be held at Commack Abbey Funeral Home in Commack on Monday, Oct. 3, and Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A service will be held Oct. 5 at the Tilles Center for Performing Arts in Brookville at 11 a.m. Cremation will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to EMS FDNY Help Fund, P.O. Box 604362, Bayside, NY 11360-4362. Or, Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center, 33 Warner Road, Huntington, NY 11743.

Firefighters battle the blaze at a home in Huntington. Photos from Huntington Manor Fire Department.

On Feb. 17 at 2:45 p.m., the Huntington Manor Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a house fire on Pidgeon Hill Road in Huntington. Arriving units were confronted with a fully involved, home fire. About 65 firefighters using 10 trucks battled the blaze, which was controlled within an hour. A resident of the home was transported to Huntington Hospital by the Huntington Community First Aid Squad, for treatment of non-life-threatening burns.

Firefighters battle the blaze at a home in Huntington. Photos from Huntington Manor Fire Department.

The Melville, Huntington and Greenlawn Fire Departments and HCFAS provided assistance at the scene, with the Halesite Fire Department standing by at Manor headquarters. Fire ground operations were under the command of Huntington Manor chiefs Jon Hoffmann, Chuck Brady and Jim Glidden. The Suffolk County Police arson squad and Town of Huntington fire marshal were on the scene to determine the cause of the fire.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Second Squad detectives are investigating an assault during which a teenager was injured in Huntington Station Jan. 22.

A 16-year-old male was playing soccer at Manor Field Park, located at East 5th Street, at 2:22 p.m. when police said he was approached by a group of males who cut him with a sharp object.

The victim was transported by the Huntington Community First Aid Squad to Huntington Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

The investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the assault to call the Second Squad at 631-854-8252 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

Firefighters work to stop the flames. Photo from Huntington Fire Department
Firefighters work to stop the flames. Photo from Huntington Fire Department
Firefighters work to stop the flames. Photo from Huntington Fire Department

Firemen fought to put out flames at a house fire during a heavy thunderstorm this past Monday, July 25.

Huntington Fire Department volunteers were alerted to a fire on Prime Avenue in Huntington at about 4:30 p.m. Firefighters arrived to an active fire in the attic of a two-story home opposite Heckscher Park.

Crews from the Halesite, Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor fire departments quickly knocked down the blaze and overhauled the exterior and second floor ceilings to check for extension of the fire.

The Huntington Community First Aid Squad responded with an ambulance crew. About 60 firefighters and EMS personnel worked together with nine fire trucks under the command of Second Deputy Chief Brian Keane, with operations handled by Third Deputy Chief Scott Dodge.

There were no injuries reported, and the cause of the fire is under investigation by the Suffolk Police Arson Squad and the Huntington fire marshal.

Photo from HCFAS

Emergency medical workers rushed on Tuesday to rescue a young man who had been hit by a car just feet from their station.

The Huntington Community First Aid Squad said an “agitated young man” in front of its Huntington Station headquarters got the attention of the on-duty dispatcher at about 3:45 p.m. and pointed to the nearby intersection of Railroad Street and Lowndes Avenue. Several members at that point could see another person lying motionless in the street, and the squad dispatched an ambulance and a first-responder vehicle to the intersection.

The crew found an unconscious and unresponsive male around 18 years old who had been hit by a vehicle while trying to cross the street, the HCFAS said in a statement. “The crew members quickly immobilized the victim and performed a trauma examination.”

After being moved to the ambulance, the victim regained consciousness, the HCFAS said, and could communicate with the EMTs. According to the squad, he had possibly suffered a head injury.

The victim was transported to Huntington Hospital.

Squad says it services highest call volume in town

Huntington Community First Aid Squad is the subject of a recent study. File photo

A report shows that Huntington Community First Aid Squad is requesting more help from neighboring fire departments than any other ambulance service in Huntington.

According to the report, commissioned by Huntington Town, five volunteer fire departments in the town approached town officials about an increase in requests from the Huntington ambulance squad to respond to calls in the squad’s service area.

HCFAS made more requests for ambulance support than those five departments combined, according to the report.

In a phone interview this week, Alyssa Axelrod, vice president of HCFAS, said that the study is misleading because it does not mention that the squad receives more calls than the five other departments combined.

HCFAS was formed in 1967 as a nonprofit and is the only exclusive volunteer ambulance program in the town. The taxpayers and Huntington Town fund the squad’s operations.

The chiefs at the respective fire departments started noticing an increase in requests starting in 2013, according to the study.

Huntington Town responded to those concerns by hiring Medic Health to assess the operational practices of HCFAS and provide recommendations to reduce the number of requests to neighboring fire departments and ambulance squads.

The study began in June 2014. Consultants worked with the Huntington ambulance squad, representatives of Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services and Huntington Town to gather and analyze information.

The study found instances where HCFAS was understaffed during certain shifts.

In one graph, the study shows times of the day and days of the week where current staffing levels, which is a minimum of two staffed ambulances, may not be sufficient to cover the community’s demand. The study states that 1 and 5 p.m. are the two times of the day where resources are lacking the most, during six out of the seven days of the week, according to the study. Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m. is the busiest.

Currently the HCFAS services Huntington Town with a minimum of two on-duty ambulance crews based at the station for daytime shifts, and one crew for overnight shifts, according to Axelrod.

The study also highlighted a problem caused by the staff being made up entirely of volunteers.

Commitments from volunteers varied considerably for overnight and daytime coverage, according to the study. The report stated that 17 percent of the planned shifts had an insufficient number of members to staff the desired two ambulances. A chart showed the number of ambulances the HCFAS can field during different shifts based on member commitment. Friday, Saturday and Sunday overnight shifts only have enough member commitments to staff one or fewer ambulances, according to the chart. This is the same for 7 to 11:00 a.m. shifts on Friday and 3 to 7 p.m. shifts on Friday and Saturday.

Although there is no official time for how quickly an ambulance should respond to a call, organizations have given time limits to respond to life-threatening calls.

The Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services said a total response time standard of eight minutes and fifty-nine seconds is expected for life-threatening calls.

In 2014, the HCFAS was able to be on the scene to 62 percent of their calls within eight minutes of the call receipt, 76 percent within 10 minutes and 89 percent within 15 minutes. According to the study, 11 percent of the calls required more than 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive on the scene.

If an ambulance can’t respond to the scene, mutual aid requests come into play.

Mutual aid requests were designed to allow surrounding departments to assist each other during times of unusual demand for services, like mass casualty situations or disasters. Volunteer-based organizations like HCFAS also resort to mutual aid requests when they are unable to muster sufficient resources to staff an ambulance and respond to a call.

During the first five months of 2015, HCFAS requested mutual aid 41 times compared to 23 times by all the adjacent departments.

The study concludes with eight recommendations for the HCFAS to reduce its mutual aid requests. They include employing dedicated staff to provide coverage for shifts that are too difficult to staff with current volunteer squad members, restructuring the recruitment and orientation process to reduce time investment for prospective members, and more.

It also states Huntington Town should mandate the submission of monthly performance measurements, including response time performance reports and establishing response time expectations.

Axelrod said she believes that there is a misunderstanding about what this study is about.

“We are a busy department,” Axelrod said. “This year we will do 60,000 calls. We’re stripped of our percentage of calls we get in this report. The report doesn’t show that we respond to more calls than the five other departments combined.”

She said this makes the report confusing, but there were helpful discoveries and some recommendations that HCFAS wants to integrate moving forward, according to Axelrod.

She said the squad is changing how it brings in members as it’s currently a lengthy process.

“The process is steeped in caution,” Axelrod said. “We are very careful when we vet people before we let them ride in an ambulance.”

She also said the squad has considered non-volunteers, and has added a line item to their budget for 2016 to add paid personnel. According to Axelrod, the squad’s budget for this year will be cut by 15 percent, so they will have to look into other funds if they want to hire employees.

“The bottom line is we do a great job and these other departments do a great job,” Axelrod said. “But when you take out the number of calls we respond to, it makes us look deficient.”

File photo

The Huntington Community First Aid Squad responded to an emergency call on Saturday morning after a crash between a motorcycle and a car on East Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station, near Longfellow Drive.

While on the way to the scene, the ambulance personnel learned that both the motorcycle and its motorcyclist were on fire, the ambulance company said.

When they arrived on scene, the responders found a conscious man complaining of pain to his right leg, and he had severe burns on about 10 percent of his body.

According to the ambulance company, the responders hooked up the man to an IV and gave him pain medication on the way to Nassau University Medical Center.

The road was closed in both directions while the scene was cleaned up.