We have been very busy the past several months. First, I am pleased to report that we had an extremely successful Pulse Check 2012. The new location, The Crowne Plaza in Suffern proved to be an excellent venue. The attendance was great, the educational seminars were exceptional, great vendors and the hotel staff could not have been more responsive. Pulse Check 2013 will be returning there this year. Teri Hamilton, Convention Chair and her committee did a fantastic job in putting together a tremendous program. We are looking forward to a bigger and better Pulse Check 2013. Please check our web site www.nysvara.org for updated information. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into putting on such an event. We are always looking for help.
If you are interested, please contact Teri at
As everyone knows, on October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy struck southern New York and New Jersey bringing utter devastation to the area. Not only were homes, business and people's lives destroyed but also the area's infrastructure including Emergency Services and EMS. The hardest hit area was New York City. NYSVARA District 4 under the leadership of Ryan Gunning and his officers immediately began a damage assessment and put out requests for assistance and established a Command Center for coordination. Ryan and District 4 coordinated the recovery effort, with the help of Assembly Miller were able to acquire warehouse space. NYSVARA was able to use our blast e-mail system and with the help of the Bureau of EMS and their List-Servs, we were able to get information and requests for assistance out statewide. This way of communicating proved invaluable. The response to these requests was overwhelming. EMS agencies from across the state and from neighboring states sent spare ambulances, medical equipment, supplies and personnel to assist in the effort. Volunteer agencies, proprietary services and fire based services all came together for one purpose: help those who needed help in their time of need to continue to be able to provide service to the communities they serve. It truly was remarkable. Once the situation had stabilized, NYSVARA and District 4 with the help of Chicago Uno in Queens held a fund raising event to help those agencies who suffered the most severe losses. Huntington Community First Aid Squad and the Suffolk County REMSCO each donated $1000.00 to this effort.
As the holidays approached, the focus changed slightly to try and make the Holiday Season a little more bearable for those who suffered such catastrophic losses and focus turned to the children. District 4, again with the help of Assemblyman Miller and other groups conducted Toy Drives and delivered hundreds of toys to children in the affected area. I also want to thank St. Francis Hospital Emergency Department who held a toy Drive to benefit those who lost everything. They collected a large box of toys that I delivered to Chairman, Ryan Gunning and his band of Santa's elves.
Once again, I want to thank Jim Downey and our web master John Hussar of Greygoosegraphics for their efficiency in getting updates and messages out to all our members. On that topic, I want to ask that you give us the e-mail addresses of your colleagues and anyone interested in the work we do. Electronic communication, as was proved during Hurricane Sandy, provides a way for NYSVARA to communicate with our members quickly. I want to assure everyone that we do not give, lend, or sell any information to anyone. It is strictly for our use to better communicate with you. If you would like to be added to our e-mail list, please go to our website www.nysvara.org and on the bottom right of the home page enter your e-mail address.
CHRISTMAS FOR HURRICANE SANDY VICTIMS COURTESY OF JEMS!!!! Through the KINDNESS and GIFTS FROM THE HEARTS of the staff at JEMS MAGAZINE and PENNWELL PUBLISHING, the Larkin/Brooks family of Stony Point NY, Rockland County, District 1 and The Karl/Lee Family of Hamilton Beach NY, district 4, started the holiday season off with HAPPINESS, SMILES AND GRATITUDE
The devastation of Hurricane Sandy was obvious and the sadness was as well, however through the tears of happiness, both families were very grateful for all the gifts and for brightening their holidays.
We at NYSVARA can't say THANK YOU ENOUGH to the dedicated and caring staff at JEMS & PENNWELL PUBLISHING---they are what heroes are made of!!
WEST WEBSTER FIREFIGHTERS SHOOTING
At a time of the year when everyone is preparing to be festive and thankful, our members in District 16 were faced with the tragic murder of 2 members of service on Christmas Eve. As firefighters arrived at the scene of an early morning fire, Webster Fire Department Lt. and Public Safety Officer Mike Chiapperini and police dispatcher and firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka were killed in the early morning shooting near Lake Ontario. Joseph Hoffstetter and Theodore "Ted" Scardino were wounded. These men were trained volunteer firefighters who routinely risked their lives to protect the community.
The Officers and Directors of NYSVARA would like to express or sincere gratitude and THANKS to the families of these outstanding members of service who made the ultimate sacrifice. NY State Gov. Andrew Cuomo was quoted as saying, "NY's first responders are true heroes as they time and again selflessly rush toward danger to keep our families safe."
As a result of this tragedy and that of the death of Mark Davis from TIERS' NYS EMS Agency who lost his life to gun fire as well on 1-31-09, Gov. Cuomo signed into law "The Webster Provision": Under the legislation, murder of a first responder who is engaged in his or her duties will become a Class A-1 felony, with a mandatory penalty of life in prison without parole. This provision was created to honor the memory of Lt. Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka who were victims of a fatal shooting in Webster, New York, on December 24, 2012.
With the start of the New Year we begin a new legislative session in Albany. Shortly after the new session began, the Governor released his proposed 2013-2014 Budget. Again this year, his proposed budget has included changes to PHL Article 30 that could have a serious impact on the EMS System in New York State. We have partnered with the United New York Ambulance Network (UNYAN) to formulate a strategy to oppose these changes. It is my belief that one of the primary responsibilities of NYSVARA is to represent the interests of the State's volunteer and not-for profit EMS community. Shortly after the Governor released his budget, NYSVARA and UNYAN were offered an opportunity to testify before the Senate and Assembly Joint Legislative Budget Committee on Health. As I was the SEMSCO meeting, Steve Dziura represented NYSVARA. We received very positive feedback from the Committee in regards to our testimony. We will be meeting with our State Government leaders in regards to this issue. I will keep the membership updated through our e-mail system as this process moves along. We welcome any input you may have.
March 5 and 6, I, along with Henry Ehrhardt, Steve Dziura, and Teri Hamilton, will be attending EMS Day on the Hill sponsored by NAEMT in Washington, DC. This event provides an opportunity to meet with New York representatives and discuss issues of concern nationally. NAEMT does a great job in setting up appointments with local members of the House of Representatives and our Senators. It also allows us the opportunity to meet with our EMS colleagues from around the country. It provides a forum to discuss issues of common concern. We will be reporting on the trip upon our return.
Our Legislative Day will be held in Albany Monday, May 6, 2013. PLEASE MARK YOU CALANDARS and join us if you can. As you know this is an opportunity to meet with our State representatives to discuss the issues that are important to volunteer EMS in New York. We will be sending out more information shortly.
The EMS Memorial Ceremony is set for May 21, 2013 at 11:00am at the EMS Memorial on the Plaza in Albany. Regrettably, two names will be added to The Tree of Life. They are FDNY retiree and Staten Island Paramedic David Restuccio and EMT Eric Monty of Champlain EMS. It is extremely important that all who can attend the Ceremony to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives in the Line of Duty. I am asking that you take the time to join us. Any agency wishing to send vehicles should contact Donna Johnson at DOH 518.402.0996 ext. 3.