Elmhurst Hospital honors first responders at annual awards ceremony

Photos: Max Parrott/QNS

NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst held its third annual tribute to the New York City Police Department, Fire Department and Department of Corrections on Friday, Oct. 25.

The hospital funded and organized the award ceremony in order to highlight the importance of first responders in providing critical care to the borough of Queens.

“It came about because we believe that caring for patients is really a partnership between all the first responders in the community,” said Wayne Zimmerman, the hospital’s chief operating officer. “So we wanted to make that connection between first responders and the hospital and show the public a comprehensive health care plan.”

The hospital worked with local fire companies, corrections departments and police precincts to identify first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to do good for others, or who did something in human kindness.

Though Elmhurst Hospital has only been throwing the awards ceremony for three years, the fusion of medical services and the Fire Department goes back to the mid ‘90s. 

On March 17, 1996, the Health and Hospitals Corporation EMS merged with the FDNY to form the Bureau of EMS, a branch of EMS first responders who embed with ladder companies in order to arrive with fire fighters to emergency calls. The FDNY paramedics will start treatment, while they wait for hospital’s emergency medical technician to arrive in the ambulance.

 The three firefighters who received the award were honored for rescuing a trapped wheelchair user this past March.

“It’s nice to be honored by the community,” said Tom Zurica, one of the Ladder 136 firefighters who executed the rescue. “We’re just doing our job, that’s pretty much it.” 

The honorees included Thomas Zurica, William Pence and Sultan Jahangir of FDNY; Assistant Chief Martin Morales, Detective Amy Pape, Lenin Garcia, Andrew Pizzino and Stacey Byrnes of the NYPD; Kurt Gollerstepper, Cesar Cevallos, Al Soto and Lawrence Paredes of FDNY EMS; Tonya Moore and Wiliam Hau of the H+H Hospital Police; and Rosa Rodridguez, Juan Garcia and Evelyn Crespo of the Department of Correction.