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Tarrytown Ambulance Volunteer Honored

Brett Roberts received the BLS Provider of the Year Award from the Westchester Regional EMS Council May 22.

Brett Roberts Receives BLS Provider of the Year 2013. Courtesy Chris Kalish
Brett Roberts Receives BLS Provider of the Year 2013. Courtesy Chris Kalish
The Westchester Regional EMS Council honored the EMS providers in the county by hosting the 40th annual EMS Awards Ceremony at Sleepy Hollow High School.

More than 200 EMS providers and their families celebrated the presentation of the annual EMS awards and the conferral of lifesaving citations.

Awards included:
  • BLS Provider of the Year: Brett Roberts, Tarrytown Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  Brett Roberts has been an EMT with Tarrytown Volunteer Ambulance Corps for 13 years, where he currently serves as the daytime supervisor.  He is a Certified Instructor Coordinator (CIC) for EMS providers and teaches emergency education to EMTs and community members.  Brett was instrumental in establishing the region’s first Tactical EMS squad and trains regularly with SWAT teams in the area.  He is active in Tarrytown’s Quality Assurance / Quality Improvement program and has been cited by area physicians and nurses for his effective patient care, transfer, and documentation.
  • ALS Provider of the Year: Michael Blecker, Empress EMS. Michael Blecker has been a paramedic for more than ten years.  He started working at Empress EMS in 2000 as an EMT and has been promoted to supervisor and the special operations division.  On November 20, 2012, one of his fellow paramedics had a severe allergic reaction.  She had hives and was unable to speak.  Michael treated her quickly through a risky emergency procedure called Rapid Sequence Intubation (where the patient is paralyzed through medication and a tube is placed into the trachea).  This patient’s life, like many others, was saved through the competent and caring treatment provided by Mr. Blecker.
  • EMS Communication Specialist of the Year: Caridad Morales, Empress EMS.  Cari Morales became a certified EMT after witnessing the sickness and passing of a family member in 2003.  She began working for Empress EMS in 2004 as an EMT and became a certified Emergency Medical Dispatcher.  At Empress, Cari dispatches 20-40 ambulances per day, ranging from cardiac arrests to childbirths.  She is fluent in both English and Spanish and provides pre-care instructions in both languages.  Cari has intimate knowledge of the EMS and dispatch system and is considered a leader in her field.
  • Registered Professional Nurse of Excellence: Kerri Rooney-Gibney, St. John’s Hospital.  For the past few years in her position as critical nurse manager in the ER, meeting the mounting challenges of managing an urban hospital ER, Kerri has continued to ensure the ongoing continuity of care from field EMS to the hospital Emergency Department.  Her ability to seamlessly manage a high-volume ER and integrate services with a busy EMS system is a unique quality that has benefitted both St. John’s Hospital and regional EMS services.  On November 12, 2012, Kerri worked with other nurses and paramedics as an EMS provider arrived in the ER with a complicated allergic reaction.  She consoled the EMS crews and ensured that the patient received the most nurturing care.  That patient is alive and well today, in part due to the exceptional care provided by Ms. Rooney-Gibney.
  • Physician of Excellence: Dr. Mark Papish, Westchester Medical Center.  Dr. Papish has been a contributing factor to the excellence of EMS in Westchester for many years.  He has been dedicated to the EMS community as a physician – as he was when he was a New York State Paramedic in the 1990s.  Dr. Papish has demonstrated commitment to the growth and development of EMS as he leads Continuing Medical Education programs and call audits.  On a daily basis, he collaborates and mentors EMTs and Paramedics and provides expert feedback for difficult calls and questions on care.
  • EMS Volunteer of the Year: Samuel John Halajian, Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  Samuel Halajian became an EMT with Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps (OVAC) in 2007.  By 2008, Sam had volunteered more hours than anyone else in the agency.  After a few years, Sam became a paramedic.  In November, 2012, OVAC experienced a heart-breaking tragedy: the untimely death of one of their employees.  Sam established an honor guard in honor of the fallen individual.  Creating an orientation program for new members, volunteering as a paramedic, and his unwavering commitment to Ossining VAC has made him indispensable to the agency.
  • EMS Leadership Award: Kathy Stewart, Cortlandt Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  Katherine Stewart has been involved in the Cortlandt Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps since 1986.  Her experiences as an EMT led her to pursue a nursing degree and, eventually, her career as a registered nurse.  Kathy has been a Lieutenant, Captain, Recording Secretary, and President of Cortlandt Community VAC.  Through her direct leadership, the Corps initiated its Community Outreach Program, which prepares the community for emergency health situations through free CPR and First Aid training, File of Life, Keeping the Beat, Defibrillator Lend, Fall Prevention, and Compression Champs programs.
  • EMS Agency of the Year: Cortlandt Peekskill Regional Paramedics.  In early 1994, a small group of energetic EMTs overcame a host of obstacles to form a volunteer regional Advanced Life Support (ALS) agency, which today provides paramedic service to the City of Peekskill, Town of Cortlandt, Village of Buchanan, and Lake Mohegan / Verplanck Fire Districts.  Today, Cortlandt Peekskill Regional Paramedics respond to over 4500 calls each year with multiple fly-cars, a satellite substation, and an infrastructure to supplement local volunteer BLS agencies with paramedics.
  • Civilian Award: Robert Gioia.  On the evening of February 7, 2013, Robert Gioia was called by his next door neighbor to help the man’s father.  When Robert arrived next door, he found a 54 year old male with no pulse.  Mr. Gioia, an off-duty FDNY First Responder began CPR and, with the help of local police, provided defibrillation to the patient.  Upon arrival at the hospital, the patient became conscious and alert – and has been subsequently discharged to his home with no resulting injury or sickness from the event.
Meritorious Service:
  • Brian Fleming, Paramedic: Westchester EMS
  • Wolfgang Lawton, Paramedic: Westchester EMS
  • Robert Monetta, Paramedic: Westchester EMS
  • Ronald Macellaro, Firefighter: Armonk FD
  • William Wallerstein, Firefighter: Armonk FD
  • Joseph Horesky, ESU Police / EMT: North Castle Police Department
  • Thomas MacInnes, Highway worker: North Castle Highway Department
  • Robert Lombardi, Highway worker / EMT: North Castle Highway Department
Unit Citations:
  • Armonk Fire Department
  • North Castle Highway Department
  • North Castle Police Department
  • Empress Ambulance Service
  • Yorktown Heights Fire Department
“Every year, we see great acts by amazing people coming to the aid of those in need.  We applaud the efforts of these volunteer and career emergency services providers.” said Chris Kalish, Chairman of the Westchester Regional EMS Council’s Public Information and Education Committee.

See all the awards, including all the individuals honored for specific incidents, by clicking on the Westchester Regional EMS Council website;  download them by clicking here.  The full photo library has also been posted athttp://wremsco.shutterfly.com/. 

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