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Forest Hills volunteers regroup after disaster

By Daniel Massey

Less than two weeks after its ambulance and equipment were lost in the World Trade Center disaster, the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps returned to service Saturday.    

The corps said it was able to rebuild quickly with assistance from Lynn Schulman, a candidate in the 29th City Council District.

“Lynn Schulman, through her EMS contacts, obtained replacements for most of the equipment and was instrumental in helping us to re-establish volunteer ambulance service to the community,” said Bryce Friedman, vice president of the organization.

The ambulance service is currently operating with an old, refurbished vehicle.

At 10:05 a.m. Sept. 11, the company’s ambulance was crushed beneath the rubble of Tower Two on West Street following the skyscraper’s dramatic collapse.

The two crew members on duty escaped without major injuries, but one Forest Hills volunteer, Richard Pearlman, is still missing.

Friedman said Pearlman was at 1 Police Plaza dropping off papers when the World Trade Center was attacked.

“He called his family indicating he was going to go over there with some cops,” Friedman said. “Nobody has heard from him since.”

A photo of Pearlman and two other EMS workers carrying a victim appeared in a special edition of Newsweek magazine about the attacks. The body of one of the rescue workers pictured with Pearlman was found, Friedman said.

A dozen other Forest Hills company volunteers responded to the emergency, reporting to the organization’s Metropolitan Avenue headquarters. They loaded a city bus with equipment and rushed into the medical staging area at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.

In addition to losing its fully equipped ambulance, the Forest Hills volunteers donated most of their equipment to the rescue effort. “Extraordinary amounts of equipment were used to treat patients at the scene,” Friedman said.

Schulman said she heard of the ambulance corps’ decimation from a community member.

“I was looking for something to do to help,” she said. “When I went to give blood, they didn’t want to take anymore.”

Instead, Schulman, who once worked as the associate executive director for public information for the New York City Emergency Medical Service, was able to help rebuild a community institution that has been operating since 1971.

“I made calls and was able to replace all of their equipment,” Schulman said.” She is currently working with Betsy Gotbaum, a candidate for public advocate, to help the corps secure a new ambulance.

People wishing to help the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps obtain a new ambulance can send contributions to PO Box 750617, Forest Hills, NY 11375. Contributions can also be sent to the same address for an Emergency Medical Services memorial fund.

Reach Reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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