Ready for service
Former Chief Ackerson christens the new vehicle as rescue squad member Captain Jared Gunst and Commissioner Tom Leggio look on.

IB/Chalifoux

Ready for service

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
4/7/2016


ISLIP—On Saturday, a special ceremony was held at the Islip Fire Department in recognition of two significant milestones. The first was the 75th anniversary of the Islip Fire Department Rescue Squad (formed April 1, 1941), and the second was the activation of a brand new ambulance dedicated in honor of Ex-Chief Richard Ackerson Sr. – the first member of the Rescue Squad to achieve 50 years of emergency medical service to the Islip Community.

The new vehicle 3-4-3 was officially brought into service with a ceremonial wet down. It is a 2015 Ford F450 4x4 ambulance, replacing a 1997 model that had outlasted its service life.

“This is a beautiful rig that is going to serve our community for many years to come,” said Frederick Herrmann, chairman of the Islip Board of Fire Commissioners (BOFC).

A commemorative plaque was also presented to Ackerson, who first joined the squad in September 1961.

“His dedication and commitment have been a vital part of the rescue squad’s ability to provide excellence in emergency medical care to the residents of the Islip Fire District,” read the plaque, which will also be remade in bronze and mounted to the side of the new vehicle. “From his service as one of our earliest advanced life support providers, our Rescue Captain, Chief of Islip FD, and most recently as our Rescue Squad Treasurer, Chief Ackerson’s service is not only noteworthy but also inspirational to the current and future members who keep the traditions of service alive.”

A number of elected officials were in attendance, including representatives from 4th District State Senator Phil Boyle’s Office, Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter along with Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Councilman Steve Flotteron, 10th District Suffolk Legislator Tom Cilmi, as well as a representative from County Executive Steve Bellone’s office.

A plaque was also presented to Boyle and his office for working to secure grant funding necessary to move forward with the production of the new ambulance.

Each elected official presented the department with proclamations and citations congratulating them for their years of dedicated service.

“We’re very proud of what you’ve accomplished,” said Carpenter. “But we’re also very grateful for the service that you provide everyday – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – at a time when people are most in need and most vulnerable.”

“I’ve been blessed to live in the Islip Fire District,” said Cilmi. “I’m also very thankful for all of the hours you put in not only serving our community, but the training you have to go through to do the jobs that you do.”

Robert Delagi, director of Suffolk County EMS and Public Health Emergency Services, spoke on behalf of County Executive Steve Bellone while presenting two separate proclamations – one for the Rescue Squad and the other for Ackerson.

“The men and women of Islip FD have demonstrated that the preservation of life is a sacred responsibility, and that personal commitment is paramount to the survival of our communities,” read the first proclamation.

“Ackerson is a person who leads by example and serves as an inspiration for all who know him,” read the second proclamation. “He represents passion in true service to the community, and is a dedicated first responder who’s actually created a legacy that those who follow will have to live up to and pass along to the generations that follow us.”

The Islip FD Rescue Squad responds to an average of 800 calls for service annually while operating two ambulances and one first responder vehicle. Covering a 7.5-square-mile response area, the fire district serves a population of around 17,000, including 6,500 private homes 200 commercial businesses, four schools, nine garden apartment complexes, one trailer park, six boat yards, and five miles of shoreline that extend well into the Great South Bay.