By Steve Mosco
The City Council honored two Fire Department EMTs last week who put their training into practice when they saved three individuals from drowning during an August flashflood in Glendale.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) welcomed the EMTs, Jimmy Guailacela and Marilyn Arroyo, to the Council in Manhattan, where they were recognized for heroism in the face of danger.
“Jimmy Guailacela and Marilyn Arroyo displayed the bravery and selflessness that embodies all of our city’s first responders,” said Crowley. “I’m proud to recognize their hard work keeping our community safe, especially this week when we remember Sept. 11 and the sacrifice made by so many.”
Sister Claudia Bradshaw , Mary Lawrence and Joseph Lawrence were on their way to lunch when a sudden downpour created a flash flood at the Cooper Avenue underpass. According to the councilwoman, the car was quickly covered by 7 feet of water when the EMTs jumped in and pulled all three to safety.
Though heroic to everyone else, the two EMTs said they were merely doing their jobs.
“Being an EMT is definitely a calling and I love what I do,” said Arroyo. “I’m so thankful we were close enough to make it in time to help and do our jobs.”
Guailacela agreed and said being an EMT has changed his life in profound ways.
“It has helped me grow as an individual, which has taught me to provide better care for my patients not only physically, but emotionally too,” he said. “I’m proud to be an EMT.”
Uniformed EMS Officers President Vincent Variale, Uniformed EMTs and Paramedics President Izzy Miranda as well as Bradshaw, Mary and Joseph Lawrence and other Council members joined the Glendale heroes at the ceremony.
“The quick thinking and profound bravery of Jimmy Guailacela and Marilyn Arroyo prevented a tragedy, and their heroics are evidence that New York City has the greatest EMTs in the world,” said Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr (D-Astoria). “If I am ever in a life or death situation, I will be sure to have them both on speed dial.”
The heavy storm, which caused the first of two major flooding incidents in Glendale this summer, showed that the sewer infrastructure in the area is inadequate, Crowley said. The councilwoman recently met with the city Department of Environmental Protection and called for an investigation and infrastructure improvements to Glendale and the surrounding area.
“It is clear that the system in Glendale and parts of Middle Village is not prepared to handle heavy rainfall, which has caused thousands of dollars in damage to residents throughout my district,” said Crowley. “The city needs to acknowledge these mistakes and reimburse homeowners for their damages, and the DEP needs to lay out a plan for both short-term and long-term improvements.”
The DEP said it has agreed to conduct a thorough investigation of the troubled spots and report back to the community.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.