After years of working with the Bellmore-Merrick EMS, the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District will look elsewhere for emergency support during the upcoming football season.
Director of Physical Education Saul Lerner spoke on the issue at Wednesday's board of education meeting at Brookside.
“For the 17 years that I’ve been here, an ambulance from either the local fire department or the Bellmore-Merrick EMS has always been at all of our football games,” Lerner said. “Also, whenever we’ve had an emergency at one of our schools, it’s our policy to call the fire department."
"However, this year, the assistant chief of the Bellmore-Merrick EMS demanded that 50 percent of our emergency calls must go to them, or they would withdraw their services from our football games,” Lerner added.
The alleged demand forced Lerner to make a decision a week before the district’s first football game of the 2012 season.
After conferring with district Superintendent Henry Kiernan and all three CHSD principals, Lerner decided not to change their policy. As a result, Lerner said that Bellmore-Merrick EMS withdrew their football support, which originally covered approximately 50 percent of games played in a season.
“Fortunately, we reached out to the three fire departments that service our games currently,” Lerner said. “One has already answered that they will cover the extra load and I’m awaiting a response from the other two fire districts, but they seemed like they would make every effort to make sure every game was covered.”
Christopher Benes, who's the chief of Bellmore-Merrick EMS, said that no such demand was made and issues arose when he was informed too late of the football schedule.
"They usually send us the football schedule in June, but we didn't get it until a couple of weeks ago," Benes said. "We had already committed to the Merrick Street Fair."
Benes said that he only told Lerner that they couldn't cover one game.
"Neither the board of directors nor I said we weren't going to do the games this year," Benes added. "It was one game ... literally one game."
What do you think of the change in emergency coverage for the district's football games? Tell us in the comments below.