I suppose you could say the beginnings of my career originated with the Boy Scouts of America. I spent my childhood as a Cub Scout, Webelo, and finally a full 7 years as a youth in the Boy Scouts of Troop 119 from St. Margarets RC Church in Middle Village. So it should come as no surprise that I had the core moral values of helping others (part of the Scout Oath) and being prepared (the Scout Motto) ingrained in my upbringing.
My first exposure to the world of the Emergency Medical Services was through the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps. I became a member there in June of 1994 and went on to get my Emergency Medical Technician certification in early 1995.
This was by far just a stepping stone, and over the years I have had a variety of experiences that are unique from which my knowledge base has grown considerably in both EMS system design, first response challenges, and providing event first response medical services in both venues big and small.
To me, working in either EMS or the First Responder community is more than just “helping people”. I can do that on a street corner by offering directions to lost motorists or pedestrians, and it doesn’t require the training or the experiences I’ve had.
I’m about taking the impossible and making it a reality. I’m about making it happen for the patient and the patient’s family.
I’m not about saving lives.
I’m about changing them.
The Unexpected “Big Ones”
Many EMTs and Paramedics look forward to “the big one” where their skills can be utilized and they feel a true difference can be made. Over the span of my career I’ve participated in some of the most historically significant “big ones”.
In 1999, New York State was struck by a devastating ice storm in the capitol area. I was deployed with a group that became based out of Albany Medical Center and provided welfare checks further north in the Ticonderoga area.
On September 11, 2001, I responded to the World Trade Center site where two airline jets had been flown into the towers in the worst terrorist attack on the United States.
A month after the attack on the World Trade Center I responded to the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Far Rockaway. Although FDNY BEMS Command levied accusations against me for responding without being assigned the call, I was one of only two units who actually transported patients from the scene. In light of this glaring fact, their accusations were considered baseless and I was cleared and reinstated.
In 2005, I lead a strike team during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort in New Orleans. In Baton Rouge, I found myself helping to organize and staff the tasking office out of the Jimmy Swaggart compound where FEMA contracted EMS resources received their missions and were stationed.
Also in 2005 I headed up a task force during the Hurricane Rita relief effort in Texas. We provided an initial evacuation for 27 nursing home residents who were stranded when their evacuation tour bus suffered mechanical failure. We went on to provide both 911 and inter-facility service for Sabine County. Based out of Hemphill, along with a task force from West Virginia, we ran the system that had experienced a huge population increase due to evacuees for the next 3 weeks.
In 2012, all that out of state experience was put to use in my own city when Superstorm Sandy ravaged the east coast. The night it made landfall I hunkered down in Manhattan with a strike team of ambulances and responded to the New York University Medical Center evacuation that occurred south of the East 34th Street River… and yes, I said River because that’s what East 34th Street had become.
On October 31, 2012, I was directed to Bellevue Hospital where their evacuation had been underway since 5:00 am. I arrived there at 11:00 am to find they had moved 18 patients but still had an estimated 702 left. Working with NYC OEM reps, NYC REMSCO, the National Guard, and the out-of-state EMAC units we kicked it into high gear and began moving an average of 33 patients an hour so that we were able to have the evacuation completed by noon on November 1. Aside from resource acquisition and allocation my primary role there was in ambulance Staging.
On December 1, 2012, we were contracted to provide additional 9-1-1 ambulance service to the City of Long Beach who was still recovering from the storm. I provided operational oversight for two basic life support and two advanced life support units that operated for 24-hours a day in the city until February of 2013 responding to local 9-1-1 calls and supplementing the Long Beach Fire Department until they could get their lost equipment replaced.
The Expected “Big Ones”
In 1999 I was the overnight Deputy Incident Commander at Woodstock ’99. I worked through the “Night of Fire” that saw the site burn down around us, but never had the chance to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
For New Years Eve 1999 I found myself in Times Square supervising a task force of private ambulances stationed along the perimeter to provide transport for any of the sick or injured. With the exception of when the 42nd Street barriers were overrun and five of our ambulances were inundated with revelers two minutes before the ball drop, I spent most of the night responding to “suspicious package” calls and kicking them before the bomb squad could arrive.
I was fortunate to finally see the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was consultant for the inauguaral Latrobe County Fair in 2000.
In 2007 I worked as the Incident Commander for Rock The Bells on Randall’s Island that featured Rage Against The Machine, two of only four shows Rage Against The Machine performed that year. I’ve also covered a number of Lollapalooza Festivals, Ozzfests, Guinness Fleagh Festivals, and a wide variety of dance/club/rave events.
On September 11, 2014, I accepted the position as Director of Special Operations for TransCare after successfully overseeing event medical services for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) 2014 US Open. My operational responsibilities included oversight of the event medical services at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theater, the Manhattan Center and Hammerstein Ballroom, the Best Buy Theater, corporate medical services for clients in the financial district, and diplomatic medical protection services for foreign dignitaries. I stepped down from that position October 6, 2015.