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Port Jefferson Fire Department

Port Jefferson Mayor Lauren Sheprow, PJFD Chief Anthony Barton, PJFD Commissioners David Gumbus, Charles Russo, and David Oakes (on the rig). Photo courtesy Mayor Lauren Sheprow

Supervisor Dan Panico held a press conference at Brookhaven Town Hall to announce that the Town of Brookhaven will transfer two Stewart & Stevenson LMTV Highwater Rescue Vehicles to the Port Jefferson and Mastic Beach Fire Districts. Supervisor Panico’s action comes shortly after the north shore and south shore of Brookhaven Town experienced extensive flood damage from heavy rainstorms in January. Mastic Beach and the Village of Port Jefferson experienced considerable rain and flooding, which made it extremely difficult to make rescues in the affected areas. Since the responsibility of water rescues was transferred from the Town to local fire districts, the trucks were no longer needed by the Town of Brookhaven. 

The resolution was unanimously adopted at the Feb. 1 Town Board meeting. The Highwater Rescue Vehicle donated to the Port Jefferson Fire District also includes an Inmar Hull, 4.3-meter inflatable boat with trailer.

There is no fiscal impact to the Town as the vehicles will be transferred to the Fire Districts per section 72-h of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York to provide emergency water rescue and returned to the Town if not needed in the future. It was also indicated that the Port Jefferson and Mastic Beach Fire Departments agree to use the vehicles for Mutual Aid for other Fire Districts within the Town of Brookhaven for water rescues. In the event that the Mastic Beach or Port Jefferson Fire Districts, should decide to sell either of the vehicles, the Town of Brookhaven shall have the right to request the vehicles be returned to the Town.

Supervisor Panico said, “The marked increase in the frequency of these significant rain and flooding events present challenges for local fire departments. Two of our most vulnerable coastal communities are Mastic Beach and Port Jefferson, and their fire departments need the right tools to help keep residents safe. Accordingly, we are pleased to be able to help them do their job with the donation of these Highwater rescue vehicles.”

First responders swarm the scene on Feb. 22. Photo by Lynn Hallarman

By Lynn Hallarman

Christian Neubert, third assistant chief for the Port Jefferson Village Fire Department, was first on the scene, responding to the emergency dispatch called to the Port Jefferson fire station at 5:44 AM, Thursday, Feb. 22. 

At 5:46 AM, Neubert arrived at the corner of Thompson Street and East Main Street in the Village to find flames shooting in the air from the roof of a two-car garage on the residential property at 119 East Main Street. He quickly realized the worst was possible and told the dispatcher to alert neighboring fire departments that a full-structure fire was underway. 

When a report of a structure fire is called to the Port Jefferson Fire Department, the Terryville Fire Department is simultaneously alerted, putting in motion a quick response firefighting team as an extra layer of support for dangerous fire situations, Neubert explained the emergency response process in an interview with TBR. “This system is excellent and part of our automatic mutual aid program. And we do the same for Terryville,” he said. 

Belle Terre resident Mel Kravitz, on his early morning walk with his dog, could see the flames reaching into the sky from the Gap parking lot. 

“I heard explosions, then shortly after, I saw the fire trucks shooting down East Main,” Kravitz said. 

At 5:51 AM the Terryville Fire Department arrived on the scene. 

At 6:03 AM,  neighboring fire departments began to arrive to fight the blaze: Setauket Fire DepartmentMount Sinai Fire Department, and Stony Brook Fire Department responded, according to Neubert. The Miller Place Fire Department stood by at the Port Jefferson Fire Station in case an alarm sounded for another village fire. 

After confirming residents were safely outside, the crew assessed if the fire had extended into the house. The fire jumped from the garage and was eating its way through a low roof on the side of the house. Firefighters split efforts between containing the garage fire and extinguishing the rapidly spreading fire inside the home.

Several firefighters were fighting the blaze — some were on the house’s roof and inside the house searching for hot spots, while others drenched the destroyed garage with water. Cars parked inside the garage were now heaps of melted metal. Smoke plumed from burnt remnants, and radiant heat melted the siding off the house next door on Thompson Street. Firefighters doused a charred shed on the adjacent property on East Main. 

At 6:48 AM, the Port Jefferson Fire Department declared the fire incident under control. 

“The theory is the fire originated in a car in the garage,” Neubert said. But as a firefighter, you can’t know.” The incident will now be under investigation by the village Fire Marshall and the Suffolk County police, who make these determinations, he explained. 

No residents were hurt in the fire. A second-degree hand burn sent one firefighter to the emergency room at Stony Brook University Hospital. He was treated and released, according to Neubert. 

Fire Safety Tips

“The number one fire safety tactic is to install smoke detectors,” Neubert said.  

“And don’t assume that the fire department knows because your smoke alarm is going off; call 911 immediately,” he said. 

“Sleep with the doors closed at night. A closed door is imperative to stop fire spread,” he warns.

The Port Jefferson Fire Department has a designated fire alarm hotline: 631-473-3232. 

“We’re proud of having that capability. Residents can call the firehouse directly, saving critical minutes in response time.

Neubert reminds the public that every firefighter in the Port Jefferson fire department is a volunteer.

“Volunteer firefighters responded to this fire, then left, showered, and went to work.”

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Representatives from Port Jefferson fire department and EMS organizations speak before the civic. Photo by Lynn Hallarman

By Samantha Rutt

The Port Jefferson Civic Association hosted a meeting on Feb. 12 dedicated to first responders. 

“Our first responders have been there for us many a time, we have invited them here to help our residents learn what it takes to run such operations as well as learn what unique challenges they face,” civic association President Ana Hozyainova said.

The Port Jefferson Fire Department and EMS organizations have long been pillars of the Port Jefferson community, providing crucial emergency services to residents in times of need. However, recent challenges have highlighted the strain on these vital institutions, ranging from outdated facilities to a shortage of funding and volunteers.

One of the primary issues facing the Port Jefferson Fire Department and EMS is the state of their facilities. Many of the buildings housing these organizations are small and outdated, failing to meet the needs of modern emergency response. These facilities lack adequate space for equipment storage, training facilities and administrative offices, hindering the effectiveness of operations.

The most prominent issue facing the fire department is flooding. The location of the historic building is nestled in one of the lowest points of the town’s landscape allowing it to be highly susceptible to excess water. Third assistant fire chief, Christian Neubert, explained past complications the department faced during severe storms and excess rain. 

“One of the big problems we have is the firehouse floods,” Neubert said. “So, getting the firefighters to the fire department can be complicated. We have a flood protocol that we put in place after the 2019 flood, that when there is an alarm, certain apparatuses are allocated to certain sides of Maple Place. Some go up the hill and some go down toward the village.”

The issue of flooding exacerbates the challenges already faced. Flooding not only poses a threat to the safety of personnel but also endangers critical equipment and resources essential for emergency response efforts.

“That’s one of our starting points for mitigating those emergencies,” Neubert added. “There’s a lot of logistical complications when we deal with those types of floods.”

Like the fire department, the EMS organization is also experiencing a facility crisis. The organization runs an EMS training program with Stony Brook University students.

“We run an EMS training program, the EMS Academy, out of our facility,” Mike Presta, deputy director from Port Jefferson EMS explained. “We make our pre-health student EMTs and they go on to serve the community for the four or five or six years that they’re working toward becoming a health professional.”

Presta continued explaining the program in greater detail, “Almost five years ago, we actually developed a program where they live in the building. We have 15 college kids that live there, they get free room and board.” 

Though the efforts and intention of the EMS organization are pure, they face challenges running their organization alongside the student training program. Presta explained that due to the need for living quarters, the organization has set up trailers in the rear of the property to best suit the other operations of the organization. 

In addition to facility woes, the Port Jefferson Fire Department and EMS are grappling with a significant shortage of volunteers. Traditionally volunteer-based, these organizations rely on community members willing to dedicate their time and expertise to serve their neighbors. However, in recent years, recruitment efforts have struggled to attract new volunteers.

“We don’t get a lot of local community volunteers. We don’t really have many from the village, we don’t have any from Belle Terre, we don’t have any from Mount Sinai. So, our organization has grown to really rely on our Stony Brook University students,” Presta said.

Funding is also an issue facing these organizations as they rely heavily on property tax levies within the district and little elsewhere.

“Unlike some of our neighboring districts and partners, we don’t have as large a commercial tax base means that we don’t get to pull from a Walmart or a BJ’s or Target or Home Depot or a Lowe’s, we don’t have those large places,” Neubert said. “So, we have to be very mindful with our spending.”

Neubert continued explaining some of the ways the department has made efforts to save: “Recently, the fire district outsourced this faction of services to the supported firemen. So, our dispatchers now are Setauket dispatchers. That was a huge savings for the fire district, because they no longer had to pay full-time dispatchers out of the firehouse. And the reason that had happened was because insurance premiums have gone significantly up because of the recent floods.” 

In the face of these challenges, the dedication and commitment of the members of the Port Jefferson Fire Department and EMS remain unwavering. Despite the obstacles they face, these individuals continue to serve our community, ensuring the safety and well-being of all residents. As a community, it is incumbent upon us to support and strengthen these essential organizations as they work tirelessly to keep Port Jefferson safe.

The meeting also served as the first opportunity to register interest in running for officer positions for the civic association. Offices open for elections are, president, vice president, treasurer, recording secretary and corresponding secretary. Only members in good standing are eligible to run and the deadline to submit interest is March 11, also the date of the next association meeting. 

Despite rainy weather, hundreds of people from across Long Island headed to downtown Port Jefferson July 4 to cheer on their families, friends and neighbors during the annual Port Jefferson Fire Department Independence Day Parade.

Fire departments from both the North Shore and South Shore brought in their fire trucks, ambulances and marching bands all sporting red, white and blue, while local dancers, Cub Scouts and business personnel marched alongside them down Main Street.

And while the weather held up for most of the event, a quick downpour didn’t stop spectators from watching the newest village officials get sworn in.

Port Jefferson village clerk Barbara Sakovich gave the oath on the steps of Village Hall to the village’s newest mayor, Lauren Sheprow, reelected trustee Stan Loucks, newly elected trustee Bob Juliano and newly appointed trustee Drew Biondo.

Sheprow was surrounded at the podium by family, including her grandchildren and father, former village Mayor Harold Sheprow.

“I could not have done this without you,” she said, looking out to him in the crowd.

She also thanked her supporters. 

“I look at each one of your faces, and I know you supported this initiative,” she said. “I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.”

— Photos by Julianne Mosher

Due to its low-lying topography, the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s station is frequently inundated. Former Mayor Mike Lee suggests this location is inadequate for effectively servicing the public.

Downtown Port Jefferson is coping with longstanding flood concerns, which could intensify in coming years.

During an April 5 climate resilience forum at Village Hall, local architect Michael Schwarting reported that the village’s blend of low-lying topography, subsurface water bodies and rising tides will likely produce even greater flooding risks. [See story TBR News Media website, April 13.]

“Those three things interact with one another to cause the problems that we’ve been having in the past, are still having and will have in a worse way, according to predictions,” Schwarting said.

— Photos by Aidan Johnson

Mike Lee, former mayor of the Village of Port Jefferson, chronicles the past, present and future of Port Jeff’s water challenges.

Mike Lee, former mayor of Port Jefferson who served from 2005 to 2007, is now ringing the alarm over the village’s flooding problems. In an exclusive interview, Lee chronicled the area’s historic water challenges.

Drowned Meadow

Before the 19th century, nearly all of the existing downtown was a salt marsh. The tides would flood the marsh twice daily, giving the area its name, Drowned Meadow.

Lee considers the waters running in and around Port Jefferson an inherent feature of the area’s natural character. And while the land was eventually renamed Port Jefferson, its natural essence remains unaltered. 

“It’s easy to change the name, but it’s hard to change the terrain,” Lee noted.

One of the few remaining patches of unfilled marshland in downtown Port Jefferson, above.


An elaborate underground stormwater drainage network serves the area, Lee explained, describing the covert system built around the 1930s as “one big tunnel” channeling stormwater from all directions toward Port Jefferson Harbor.

The area’s patchwork of hills exacerbates the flooding problems downtown as the stormwater flows downward into the low-lying areas. 

As downtown developed over time, the impermeable surface area multiplied exponentially. For a place originally named for its flooding issues, development slowly removed vital escape routes for floodwaters to discharge naturally.

“There’s too much restriction” now within the drainage system, Lee said. “So much of the area that would have the normal penetration of water has been [converted] to roofs, parking lots, driveways, roads.”

He added, “It doesn’t have the natural absorption.”

One central covert, seen above, channels the bulk of the area’s floodwaters into Old Mill Creek.

During major flood events, the stress on the stormwater network is most pronounced near Port Jeff’s fire station on Maple Avenue, one of the lowest elevations.

“This is what we’ve come to,” Lee said in the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s garage, pointing to an amphibious high-water rescue vehicle the department requires to leave its station. “I call it ‘The Drowned Meadow Express.’”

“If you’re going to serve the public, you have to be able to get through the puddle,” he added.

Coined ‘The Drowned Meadow Express,’ PJFD requires this high-water rescue vehicle to leave the fire station during flood events.

Possible solutions

Lee indicated that while the fire department has coped with the flooding challenges over time, its current headquarters building is becoming increasingly untenable.

During a May 1 public hearing on code possible changes for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property on Myrtle Avenue, multiple residents proposed relocating the fire station to higher ground. 

Lee, an ex-chief of PJFD, concurred with this assessment. “As an emergency service, how can we not be capable of serving the public,” he said.

Lee suggests there are other ways to help resolve the water challenges. He proposed that developers “stop doing what you’re doing,” in terms of increasing impermeable surfaces.

Up the easterly hill at Port Jefferson Country Club, the village recently received a $3.75 million grant from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency in hazard mitigation funds to help stabilize the East Beach bluff. 

Lee suggested policymakers explore similar grant opportunities to address flooding.

“I think if FEMA is going to put money into infrastructure, it should do it where it affects everybody,” the former mayor said.

Despite centuries of water troubles, Lee maintained the village could overcome some of its challenges with proper governmental initiative. 

He encouraged officials to give flooding the appropriate attention, concluding that on the list of local priorities, “It should be right on the top.”

Richard Rosenberg, left, and Michael Dubb, attorney and principal respectively at the Jericho-based Beechwood Organization during a May 1 public hearing at Port Jefferson Village Hall. Photo by Raymond Janis

Ten minutes before 6 p.m., every chair in the house was already taken. Behind the gallery, some sat on tables, others on desks. A standing crowd began to form. Younger attendees yielded their seats to their elder counterparts. All were in for a long night.

The board room at Village Hall could not contain the audience gathered on Monday night, May 1, for the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees public hearing on the Maryhaven Center of Hope property on Myrtle Avenue.

“It’s great to see a full room,” said Mayor Margot Garant. “That means this community is engaged.”

The village board is considering modifying the zoning code and proposing an incentives package to encourage the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings and structures.

The Maryhaven property is currently zoned as a Professional Office P-O District. Under the existing zoning code, an applicant within the P-O District can request a special-use permit for Moderate-Density Residence R-M District development.

Village attorney Brian Egan explained the motivations guiding these potential code changes.

The Maryhaven “building is certainly worth keeping,” he told the sea of residents in attendance. 

Convincing the owners of that building to preserve it, however, represents a quandary for village officials. The existing zoning code lacks a mechanism to sway developers toward historic preservation.

“There is no obligation to save that building,” Egan said.

The proposed code amendment would create such a mechanism — a special permit application. Egan referred to this application process as “another layer of control” for the village board, enabling it to designate specific parcels that contribute to the village’s architectural or aesthetic character.

If a parcel meets these criteria, determined by the Board of Trustees, then the applicant would qualify for “slightly relaxed standards” under the R-M code, Egan stated. 

In the previous week’s work session, they agreed those relaxed standards would be allowances for additional height and stories but no additional clearing — a tradeoff of density for historical preservation and conservation.

Developers from the Jericho-based Beechwood Organization, the firm negotiating with Catholic Health to acquire the Maryhaven property, attended the public hearing. Michael Dubb, principal at Beechwood, stated his intention to preserve the historic building on-site.

“It would be easier for me as the developer to knock that building down … but that wouldn’t be the right thing to do,” he said.

Richard Rosenberg, an attorney for Beechwood, expanded upon the firm’s vision for the site.

“The intention is to keep the original part of the structure, which is around 40-45,000 square feet, demolish the rest,” he said. “There is asbestos, there is lead-based paint. We have to clean it up according to regulations.” He added, “It’s a big ticket item.”

Public input

Following the presentations by Egan and Beechwood, the board took comments from the public. During that period, community members expressed a recurring message:

“I think the big problem that many of us have is density,” resident Eric Sackstein told board members. This general sentiment echoed throughout the evening.

Former village trustee Virginia Capon, who had chaired the Comprehensive Plan Committee, expressed her appreciation for the board in its willingness to preserve the historic structure.

But she objected to the board’s proposed remedy to the problem, suggesting that the board consider the village in its entirety before changing the zoning code.

“That building is beautiful, but I don’t think this is the way to preserve it,” she said.

The former trustee added that numerous other factors weigh into the Maryhaven calculation, such as its nearby steep slopes, which can cause issues with flooding. Capon advised the board to explore options that do not incentivize greater density.

“If you can come up with a way of preserving this building that maybe doesn’t overdevelop the parcel, that would be my recommendation,” she said.

Several other differing proposals were offered for the adaptive reuse of the site. Michael Mart, citing the flooding concerns over the Port Jefferson Fire Department building on Maple Place, proposed relocating the fire station to the higher elevation at the Maryhaven property. 

Another resident, Steve Velazquez, proposed selling Village Hall and headquartering the village’s municipal operations at Maryhaven.

Discussions over Maryhaven remain ongoing as the board left the public comment period open for 21 days following Monday’s meeting.

PJCA president Ana Hozyainova, center. Photo by Raymond Janis

The general meeting of the Port Jefferson Civic Association on April 12 was briefly delayed due to a lack of chairs as over three dozen people filled the Meeting Room at the Port Jefferson Free Library.

The body approached an array of local issues, from the East Beach bluff to flooding to green space preservation, among others. With village elections along the horizon and plenty of business on the local agenda, the civic has quickly emerged as a forum for the many interests and stakeholders of the community.

East Beach bluff

Former Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Mike Lee made a presentation on historical and environmental developments at East Beach, which has eroded considerably in recent years, now endangering the Port Jefferson Country Club restaurant and catering facility from falling off the cliff.

During his administration, Lee said an engineer had advised him that a problem with the jetty system at Mount Sinai Harbor was contributing to the erosion, placing village officials in a difficult bind.

“The village was aware of [the jetty problem], but it’s not our property that we can work on,” Lee said. “We don’t have anything to do with the inlet,” which the Town of Brookhaven maintains.

Given how coastal erosion spans across municipal boundaries, Lee suggested bluff stabilization would not yield a long-term resolution. “Stabilizing, it’s going to be a never-ending battle,” the former mayor said.

Ray Calabrese, a former Brookhaven Town councilman and Port Jefferson Planning Board member, conveyed to the body engineering advice he received in the 1970s.

“Leave that bluff alone,” he said. “Nature is doing its thing. It’s replenishing that beach. Frustrate it, and you lose the beach.” He concluded, “Don’t build near bluffs.”

Civic president Ana Hozyainova noted that among other reasons, PJCA was formed to offer residents a louder voice in decision-making over the bluff.

“One of the animating reasons why we got together as a civic association was the bluff and the fact that we didn’t have a vote and a public discussion about what needs to be done with it,” she said.


Lee also touched upon ongoing flooding concerns within Port Jefferson, which was originally called Drowned Meadow due to the phenomenon. Though stormwater infrastructure installed decades ago may have been satisfactory for its time, Lee said, the flood load has increased considerably, aggravating these historic challenges.

“We have an inadequate stormwater system,” he said. “When it was built, it was adequate for then, but we have just too much to deal with. It just floods and backs up, and the bad part about it is that it invades the sanitary system.”

PJCA member Michael Mart expressed alarm over the long-term prospects of the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s fire station on Maple Place, which in a recent climate resilience meeting was noted for heightened risk of flooding. [For more on this village meeting, see story, “As Port Jeff braces for heightened flooding,” The Port Times Record, April 13.]

“My question is this: Does the fire department or the village have the right of eminent domain for properties that we desperately need?” Mart said. “If we do have that, aren’t we obligated for the long run to pursue that as far as we can?”

Land use

Much discussion centered on potential code changes to protect trees, preserve open space and limit clearing of woodlands. With a village public hearing scheduled for May 1 on the future development of the Maryhaven property, the body discussed whether new development is environmentally optimal.

Civic vice president Holly Fils-Aime tied the issues of flooding and land development, stating that additional paved surfaces could exacerbate concerns over stormwater runoff.

“Everybody is seeing the flooding — the roads become rivers — and it actually ends up in the harbor,” Fils-Aime said. “None of this is really filtered in any way, and the more development we have obviously adds more stress on all of these systems.”

Citing a 2016 report from the New York State Comptroller’s Office, the vice president added that preserving existing green spaces and creating new ones serves a wide array of fruitful purposes.

The report mentions open spaces can protect water quality, protect biodiversity and promote outdoor recreation, among other public benefits.

“My real worry is that the more development we have, the less our village is going to be viable in terms of drinking water,” Fils-Aime said.

PJCA will meet next on Wednesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. in the Port Jefferson Free Library. Candidates for village offices have been invited to present to the body.

Not even the rain could keep Santa from coming to town on Sunday, Nov. 27, during this year’s annual Santa Parade in Port Jefferson village.

Amid a steady downpour, dozens lined the village streets in rain gear and under umbrellas. Marchers along the parade route walked the duration of Main Street, starting from the Port Jefferson train station to the intersection of East and West Broadway, then ending at the Village Center. 

Port Jefferson Fire Department featured several of its vehicles. Dancers twirled and fairy princesses trotted along, avoiding the puddles. Santa Claus, the rock star of the evening, rode in a stylish stagecoach pulled by a horse.

The festivities finished in the warmer, dry Village Center, where Santa greeted the children in attendance, asking them what they would like for Christmas. A children’s choir on the second floor filled the hall with songs.

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted the event, which coordinates the parade annually. Barbara Ransome, the chamber’s director of operations, explained why the event was held through the rain.

Sunday was the only possible date for the event to be held, and Ransome decided that hosting the parade in the face of bad weather would be preferable to complete cancellation. “I’m glad we didn’t cancel in spite of the rain,” she said.

The chamber director of operations added, “We’ve been doing this for as long as I know. I was very surprised to see so many umbrellas on Main Street — it really worked out pretty well.”

Two elected officials representing the village government, Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden and trustee Rebecca Kassay, joined the parade procession. Snaden also expressed a pleasant surprise at the sizable turnout despite the conditions.

“Having the weather the way it was, I really thought it would just be empty streets when we walked down,” she said. “I was really impressed to see so many families brave the conditions to see Santa.”

Kassay described the experience as bringing together the various facets of the community’s heritage. 

“To see so many people coming out in their raincoats and under umbrellas to celebrate this tradition in Port Jefferson was a truly heartwarming thing to be a part of,” she said.

— Photos by Raymond Janis

Above, members of Port Jefferson Fire Department and the local EMS after their technical rescue training. Photo from Port Jefferson EMS
By Julianne Mosher

It takes a village – literally.

Located on opposite sides of Port Jefferson, the Port Jefferson Fire Department and Port Jefferson EMS recently converged outside the Village Center at Harborfront Park for a training exercise that was quite the spectacle. 

A dozen volunteers from both agencies staged a scenario Sunday, Oct. 9, in which a person “fell” over the ledge of a nearly 40-foot wall, located on East Broadway, and said the “patient” could only be accessible by lowering a rescuer down to get them.

Christian Neubert, third assistant chief of the PJFD, noted a real-life example using this technique could be if someone were to fall into an open construction area with a finished basement but no stairs. 

So, to train for an instance like this, the two groups strapped up individual rescuers from both the fire department and EMS, and lowered them down using a rope to the parking lot below to assess, package and retrieve the patient. 

A look at the volunteers bringing their ‘patient’ to safety during the recent drill by Port Jefferson Fire Department and Port Jeff EMS. Photo from PJFD

Back above, other volunteers created a five-to-one haul system to pull both the patient and rescuer back to safety.

These specific agencies coordinate frequently on different types of calls, as many fire departments and EMS often do. But Michael Presta, deputy chief of the Port Jefferson EMS, said that the partnership between Port Jeff’s fire department and the separate EMS — which supports not only the village, but provides services to Belle Terre, Mount Sinai and Miller Place — has been ongoing for quite a few years, and this technical rescue training they practiced on Sunday is an indicator on how these two teams can work together. 

“There’s a lot of fire departments that provide technical rescue services in a confined space — different kinds of specialty disciplines — but there’s not a lot of patient care centered activity that goes on in a lot of these places,” Presta said. “We had a great conversation a few years ago and said, ‘Hey, it’d be really great to work together jointly with both departments and work on getting paramedic-level care down to these patients.’”

Presta said that not every scenario is the same when it comes to an emergency. People might be trapped somewhere for an extended period of time or have a complicated injury that requires care, pain management, airway management or bleeding control in a technical rescue environment.

“We thought, ‘What better way than to get the paramedics, train them in technical rescue and get them down to those patients?’” he said.

Neubert added this type of training is not easy. “There’s a lot of knowledge and skill that has to go into it, and you need to have the type of student that is ready to learn,” he said. “It’s different than basic firefighting skills.”

And Sunday’s training created an atmosphere allowing both firefighters and paramedics to work together as a team.

“It doesn’t matter what organization you were volunteering from,” Neubert said. “When we started that drill the other day, we gave the scenario, they found the job that needed to get done and they just did it.”

And once that patient is secured by whichever volunteer is first on scene, paramedics begin to administer the care that someone would find in the hospital emergency room right on the spot. 

Technical service rescues might seem niche and relatively rare, but Presta said that one could really never know.

“In this small little community here, we have a couple of hospitals, we have a power plant, train station, major transportation, the ferry. So, there are a lot of opportunities, I’d say, for people to get injured in very tricky situations,” he said. “Whether you’re down in the engine room of a ship, or in a confined space in a power plant or injured on the roof of the hospital, in this community there could be a lot of opportunities.”

Neubert added, “Something as simple as a broken leg on the bluffs out in the cove … that’s not necessarily the same as a 40-foot wall, but it still involves rope, timing concepts and technical rescue.”

After a successful 90-minutes, and a spectacle for shoppers at the local farmers market across the park, Presta and Neubert were both satisfied with the day’s events.

“This type of training will give us the ability to help other agencies,” Presta said. “Now we’re able to provide a specialty resource like this, and they have the ability to call on us if they don’t have that training or ability or equipment. We can bring it.”

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

The newly configured Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees held its first public meeting on Tuesday, July 5.

Trustee Lauren Sheprow took her seat alongside her colleagues on the board for the first time. After completing her first full day in office, the trustee discussed ways in which she intends to familiarize herself with the mechanics of the village and learn more about the concerns of her constituents.

“I continue to take information in and I’ll continue to seek information from the residents, not because I am not campaigning anymore but because I am really interested in what they have to say,” she said. 

Sheprow will jump headfirst into her first term of office, already securing two important assignments from Mayor Margot Garant: commissioner of communications and commissioner of recreation. Outlining her rationale behind these appointments, the mayor said she intends to tap into Sheprow’s professional experience in public relations and repurpose those skills in service to the community.

“We put her to work as commissioner of communications [because] we want to put her public relations experience and career to work for us,” Garant said, adding, “And also as commissioner of recreation, so that she can help the recs department and because she was a former member of the recs committee.”

As well, Garant congratulated reelected Trustee Rebecca Kassay, who began her second term this week. 

Kassay reported that she received a request to explore code changes related to the planting of bamboo as the roots of this woody grass can cross property lines and create conflicts between neighbors.

“This would address the planting of new bamboo as well as sort of being more clear about when someone has bamboo and it starts creeping over to another property line,” she said. “This is a big issue as far as property values can go and can help prevent neighborly disputes in the future.” 

Trustee Stan Loucks delivered an extensive report on the status of the recreation department as it enters the height of its busy season. He announced that two tennis courts at the country club have been opened for pickleball and will remain minimally open throughout the summer until construction begins at the East Beach bluff.

“We anticipate that the construction of the lower wall along the bluff will be starting sometime in August or early September and if any part of this construction requires working from the top, in other words, working from those tennis courts, then we’re going to have to close those courts,” he said. Loucks added that East Beach and its parking lot will also be closed off during the construction period.

Although golf membership at the country club has exceeded 630 members this year, Loucks said there are no plans to cap membership. He advised community members that while tee times are scarce between 6 and 11 a.m., there are plenty of remaining slots available after this time frame.

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden used her report to address an ongoing issue related to the recently renovated public bathrooms at Rocketship Park. According to her, the bathrooms were vandalized just four days after they were opened, prompting the board to enforce a closing time for public use of the facility.

“The conclusion we all came to was that because of the vandalism that happened four days after opening our brand new, expensive bathrooms … it is best to keep them closed at 7 p.m. and to have a sign to say that they are closed at 7 p.m. due to the vandalism that is occurring,” she said. This signage will assure that the public knows “when they’re closed and why they’re closed.”

Snaden also informed the public that the village has renewed its intermunicipal agreement with the Port Jefferson School District to allow constables on school grounds. She added that the roadway closure at the intersection of Route 25A and Arlington Avenue remains ongoing.

Garant recognized the village employees who worked to facilitate a smooth election day last month. She also acknowledged all of the candidates who ran for the village board and commended them for their continued commitment to the service of the village.

“I thank you for your involvement, for engaging, for getting out and knocking on the doors,” the mayor said. “You make a difference and we hope that you stay engaged.”

Garant also highlighted the monumental act of heroism on the part of a group of Port Jeff high school graduates. As reported on June 30 in The Port Times Record, these grads left their high school commencement ceremony to help extinguish a fire on Arlington Avenue.

“Brave is not even the word,” Garant said. “Community service is an understatement. … This really says what Port Jefferson is all about.” She added, “The fact that we do have a fire department that helps train our kids and that they are ready to serve under any circumstances is just absolutely amazing and encouraging and amazing to me.”