N.Y. volunteer squad's ambulance vandalized, leaving group offline for weeks

A fundraiser is in place to cover the costs of repairs, as well as a structure where the North Shore Rescue Squad's rig can be parked more safely


Joseph Ostapiuk
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The North Shore Rescue Squad's only ambulance was badly damaged late last week by a group of vandals wielding metal pipes, the squad's captain told the Advance/SILive.com.

A member of the volunteer group was observing cameras watching the grounds where the ambulance is stored in Sea View Friday night when he noticed dents in the ambulance, said Captain Edward Santo, a volunteer at the North Shore Rescue Squad and an EMS worker in Manhattan.

When they arrived, the damage was found to be significant. The ambulance's front windshield and driver's side window were shattered, the hood was pierced in multiple locations and the rear of the vehicle sustained blows.

The vandalism is likely to sideline the squad of around 30 volunteers for at least a couple of weeks, taking an ambulance that has been serving Staten Island off the streets.

"All summer long, we've been putting out an extra two tours twice a week ... so we're doing 16-hour shifts two days a week," said Santo. "We're just helping out the community of Staten Island and now we're going to be off the road for a while."

A fundraiser was made to help offset the cost of repairs and for funding a structure that can better secure the ambulance after it is fixed. Santo said the squad originally planned to use its 50th-anniversary celebration in the fall to help fund that effort, but he added the recent events have raised the need for that timeline to be moved up.

"I don't think we can wait until October to do this," said Santo. "Even with it going through insurance, we're still going to have to pay for other things that are going to come out of this."

The NYPD said two individuals were arrested after the incident, including a minor, and charged with criminal mischief.

The ambulance has since been towed to the body shop, but it is expected to take at least a couple weeks for the repairs to be made. In the meantime, other volunteer squads have reached out to offer their own equipment, said Santo, though any transfer of ambulances would have to go through the state Department of Health.

The North Shore Rescue Squad's absence, he said, takes an ambulance off the street that would have relieved pressure from the FDNY. Volunteer ambulance squads on Staten Island served as vital resources during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, responding to calls during a record-setting influx of trips to the hospital.

"Now that's one less ambulance on the Island," said Santo. "So now the FDNY is going to have to pull from other areas."

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(c)2022 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

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