When Clare Bennett, who lives on Oakwood Drive in Manorville, saw her eight-year-old nephew needed an emergency appendectomy, she took matters in her own hands and drove him to the hospital.
She was afraid if she waited for an ambulance, it might be too late.
Bennett has needed an ambulance three times in the past five years. Although she lives in Manorville, she is covered by the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance district, and after one call for help, had to wait 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
"My husband got there faster from Hampton Bays than the ambulance. He begged the policemen to take me to the hospital in a car," she said.
Bennett said she has tried for years to find a solution, reaching out to the town board. In 2010, she said, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter sent her a letter saying, "We are working on an answer."
Two years later, Bennett pleaded for help on Tuesday before the town board. "I don't care what the problem is. I want it fixed.'
One solution, Bennett said, might be to allow the residents inhabiting 61 homes who live in the part of Manorville close to Riverhead, but pay taxes to the Riverhead ambulance district and the Manorville Fire Department, to call the Manorville Community Ambulance district, which, she said, "is eight minutes away."
Councilman John Dunleavy said the answer is not just as simple as trading areas with the Manorville Community Ambulance District, since services have to be contracted.
Walter asked Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz to reach out to the Manorville ambulance district to discuss a contract situation; he said if they are overseen by the Brookhaven town board he would call Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko to begin contract negotiations. The matter could be solved, he said, with an intermunicipal agreement.
Bennett added that another issue centers on the fact that sometimes, when emergency calls come in to police cars, the Oakwood Drive address come in as the Oakwood Drive in Calverton, not Manorville. "They get lost," she said, which also delays response time.
"We haven't forgotten about you," Dunleavy said. "We'll work together to solve this."