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Westchester EMS Providers to be Honored Monday

Westchester EMS Providers to be Honored Monday
The following announcement is from the Westchester Regional EMS Council:

On May 19, 2014, the Westchester Regional EMS Council will honor the EMS providers in the county by hosting the 41st annual EMS Awards Ceremony at Sleepy Hollow High School.


It is expected that more than 200 EMS providers and their families will be in attendance to celebrate the presentation of the annual EMS awards and the conferral of lifesaving citations.


Honors will be awarded for the following categories:


  • BLS Provider of the Year: Maria Figueroa, Empress EMS.  Maria Figueroa has been involved in EMS for 30 years.  She started as a volunteer with Haverstraw EMS in 1983 and has worked as a career EMT since 1988.  Maria has a passion for teaching and she trains employees at Empress EMS, nursing homes, dental offices, schools, and other community arenas.  She also works for the Rockland Fire Training Center.  Maria has earned many lifesaving honors over the years and is frequently recognized by patients and family members whose lives she touches.
  • ALS Provider of the Year: Richard Harvey, Empress EMS.  Prior to January of 2000, Richard Harvey was a distinguished restaurateur in New York City.  At the age of 56, he joined Empress EMS as an Emergency Medical Technician.  Soon after, he was certified as a paramedic and after one year in that position, he won the Empress EMS Supervisor Award – an honor issued to only one employee per year.  Richard responded to over 800 calls in 2013, including many physically and emotionally challenging events and has become a distinguished member of the Empress team.
  • EMS Communication Specialist of the Year: Brigitte Fowler, Empress EMS.  Brigitte Fowler started as an EMT with Empress EMS in March of 2001.  After four years as a field EMT, she transferred to the communications division and became an emergency medical dispatcher.  At 11:00pm on December 9, 2013, a call came into the Yonkers dispatch center for a motor vehicle accident involving 28 vehicles on the Bronx River Parkway.  Brigitte managed the dispatch and coordination of 24 emergency vehicles and transport of 48 patients all while calling additional staff at home to respond.
  • Registered Professional Nurse of Excellence: Phil Dinkler, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center.  Phil Dinkler began his healthcare career in 1993 as a Certified First Responder.  He subsequently obtained his EMT and paramedic certifications over the next 9 years.  In 2005, Phil received his RN degree and began working for Phelps Hospital.  Phil is one of the select providers who bridge the link between pre-hospital EMS and the emergency room.  Phil continues to volunteer for Croton EMS and the Croton Fire Department, where he has held numerous offices, including Chief and Captain.  He greets EMS crews as a fellow pre-hospital provider and an advanced-care emergency room nurse.
  • Physician of Excellence: Dr. Kevin Brown, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center.  Dr. Brown also came from the streets as a paramedic – graduating from the first paramedic program in NYC in 1974.  Over the years, he has worked in numerous hospitals in New York City, Westchester, and other locations in the tri-state area.  He has published books on cardiac dysrhythmias and gives lectures, call audits, and Continuing Medical Education seminars.  He responds to the needs of EMS providers – right to the level of serving gourmet meals for EMTs during call audits.  Dr. Brown has made immeasurable impacts on providers and patients alike. 
  • EMS Educator of Excellence: Erik Peffers, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center.  Erik Peffers has been an EMS educator for ten years.  Starting first as an EMT and paramedic in Ossining, Erik sought certification as an instructor and began teaching at Phelps’ Hoch Center for Emergency Education.  There, he quickly found a passion for bringing efficiencies and innovations to the training program.  Today, he teaches two to three EMT classes per year and Erik produces a newsletter that circulates to regional agencies and individuals.  Class sizes have increased and the Hoch Center has gained a positive geographic growth.  Erik’s teaching has been described as engaging and informative and his contribution reaches well beyond the walls of Phelps Memorial Hospital.
  • EMS Volunteer of the Year: Richard Cariello, Yorktown Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  Many would argue that the strain and service of 40 years in EMS is enough on the surface to deserve recognition.  During Richard Cariello’s tenure with Yorktown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, he has served as Captain, Board Chairman, Founding Member and Commissioner of Yorktown’s ALS partnership, and chairman of its membership committee.  Richard was one of the critical resources to establish Advance Life Support in Yorktown and has worked tirelessly on building inter-agency relationships, such as a program allowing dual agencies to share personnel in the town.  Richard is a dedicated EMT who, in addition to providing administrative support, responds to the highest number of calls each year for Yorktown VAC.
  • EMS Youth Provider of the Year: Heather Kalish, Tarrytown Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  Heather Kalish joined Tarrytown EMS at the age of 14 and has participated actively in the junior corps since then.  A high-honors student at Pleasantville High School, Heather volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Association of Westchester and Rockland, the St. Thomas Soup Kitchen in Mamaroneck, and the Westchester SPCA in Briarcliff.  In 2013, Heather worked with the New York Blood Center in Elmsford to organize and run a blood drive, which collected whole blood, plasma, and double-donations from commuters and local residents at the Tarrytown EMS facility.  The successful drive provided blood for transfusions, people suffering with HIV, cancer, severe burns, and others.
  • EMS Leadership Award: Daniel Blum, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center.  Dan has been an EMT and paramedic since the late 80’s.  He has provided top leadership for EMS in the county for many years – as Chairman of the Westchester Regional EMS Council, delegate to the Westchester EMS Advisory Board, and is current Chairman of the New York State EMS Council.  Dan is another strong bridge between EMS in-hospital healthcare, serving as senior vice president at Phelps Memorial Hospital, where he oversees strategic planning and the hospital’s multi-specialty group.  Dan has impacted Westchester significantly through his leadership and his aggressive drive to effect change and continuous improvement has brought substantive and lasting results.

·         EMS Agency of the Year: Empress EMS.  Empress is one of the largest commercial EMS services in Westchester.  Over its lifespan of 29 years, Empress EMS has responded to over 1.5 million calls, with 74,000 emergency calls in 2013.  Over the past year, Empress arranged for the  delivery of the first Critical Care Paramedic class in the region, updated the entire ambulance fleet to a fully data integrated service, and worked with the Yonkers PD to put a Mass Evacuation Transport Unit into service.  Aside from internal growth, Empress provides service to neighboring agencies through large-scale call audits and contracting EMT resources for regional volunteer services.  Empress provides paramedic and EMT student field training from Westchester Community College, Rockland Community College, Dutchess Community College, and hosts paramedic students from the State of Maine and United Kingdom. 

  • Civilian Award: Michael Rende, Stuart Moser, David Zirlin, Jonathan Faust.  On June 26, 2013, an afternoon softball game was interrupted as the pitcher’s heart failed and he collapsed on the mound.  Thinking quickly and selflessly, four players jumped to action – assessing the victim, dispatching EMS, and performing CPR.  The patient was fully resuscitated and eventually discharged from the hospital after a quadruple bypass intervention.  The citizens further improved the well-being of the community by raising over $2000 in order to purchase an Automated External Defibrillator for the park.
  • Civilian Award: Harry Albert, Dominic Narcisco, Kevin Avery.  Picture this - You're a 17 year-old athlete at basketball practice after school.  You suddenly feel an intense pain in your chest and fall to the ground.  All goes dark.  Two days later, you wake up in the hospital not knowing what happened to you.  This is what happened to Andrew Schwartz on October 20, 2013 and the reason he is able to snowboard and play basketball today is due to the rapid and necessary actions of a few local heroes.  Harry Albert, Dominic Narcisco, and Kevin Avery jumped to action, assessing Andrew’s pulse and respirations and quickly starting CPR and initiating the EMS system.  We are proud to recognize the actions of these amazing citizens: Harry Albert, Dominic Narcisco, and Kevin Avery.
  • Dawson Leadership Award: Dr. Nicholas E. DeRobertis, MD, FACEP, St. Joseph’s Medical Center (posthumous).  On July 1, 2013, Westchester lost one of its great pillars of EMS excellence.  Dr. Nicholas DeRobertis was a great friend to EMS and a powerful resource for change and quality.  “Dr. D” came to Westchester in 1987 as the Director of Medical Control for the City of Yonkers.  He subsequently spread his wings over all of Westchester, chairing the paramedic protocol committee, the Westchester County Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), the Hudson Valley Regional MAC, and ultimately becoming the founding chair of the Westchester Regional Medical Advisory Committee.  Dr. DeRobertis was a passionate advocate for continuous improvement and involved himself in every fold of EMS in the county – educator, medical director, and emergency physician.  His unending efforts sought to raise the standard of emergency medical care in Westchester.
  • Quality and Safety Award: Valhalla EMS.  Historically, care for emergency responders working at a scene was limited to whatever food and water could be brought by well-meaning community volunteers.  Safety was mostly a distant concern to mitigating the crisis at hand.  The need to standardize the practices which look after the health and well-being of those rendering aid has been a long standing concern.  Today, federal standards provide the framework of helping those who are helping others.  To that end the Valhalla Ambulance Corps has developed a full-service rehab program, including tents, cooling chairs, ice chests, misting fans, and ice machines, in addition to water and nutrition for active scenes.  In 2013, the Valhalla Ambulance Corps rehab unit was dispatched to several incidents, including a large chlorine spill, a structure fire in Elmsford, and incidents in Dobbs Ferry and Rye Brook.  We hope that Valhalla Rehab becomes a model for other systems throughout the county.

Meritorious Service:

Andrew Wilgermein, EMT - Sleepy Hollow EMS (December 2, 2013)

Antonio Ibarra, EMT - Sleepy Hollow EMS (December 2, 2013)

Jose Coderello, Detective Sgt. - Sleepy Hollow Police Department (December 2, 2013)

James Hayes, EMT - Sleepy Hollow Fire Department (December 2, 2013)

John Cubezas, Firefighter - Sleepy Hollow Fire Department (December 2, 2013)

Carlos Barros, Firefigher - Sleepy Hollow Fire Department (December 2, 2013)


Unit Citations:

Town of Greenburgh Police Department

Dobbs Ferry VAC

Sleepy Hollow EMS

Sleepy Hollow Police Department

Sleepy Hollow Fire Department

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.


The Westchester Regional EMS Council (WREMSCO), one of eighteen EMS regions in New York State, sponsors the annual awards ceremony.  Regional EMS councils are provided for in NYS Public Health Law to work in conjunction with the New York State EMS Council and the New York State Department of Health Bureau of EMS.  The Westchester EMS Region is coterminous with the County of Westchester and represents over 70 ambulance and first response agencies, 11 emergency receiving hospitals, and more than 2000 paramedics and basic life support personnel.


For more information on the Westchester Regional EMS Council, contact the Westchester Regional EMS Office at (914) 231 - 1616, or visit  http://www.wremsco.org.


Please visit  http://www.wremsco.org/Pub_Info/PressReleases.htm#press for an electronic copy of this release or additional details.

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