Responding to a call last year about a 25-year-old man who overdosed on heroin in his home, two paramedics from SVAC performed CPR for 20 minutes and administered four times the allotted dosage of Narcan. The responders successfully brought the man back to life, and the ambulance crew transported him to the hospital. The patient is currently recovering well in a rehabilitation facility.
That incident is one of two that garnered lifesaving awards and EMS citations for several members of the ambulance corps at SUNY Purchase May 23.
Emergency personnel packed into the recital hall at the college to celebrate recipients of the annual Westchester Regional EMS Council awards, which commemorate emergency services by individuals from all over the Westchester area.
With a standing room only crowd, the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps received the Chairman’s Award and multiple lifesaving awards and EMS citations for paramedics and EMTs.
David Raizen, a member of SVAC for 43 years and president of the corps for 20, received the EMS Leadership award, an award he won twice before for his continued dedication to the corps.
Raizen, a lifelong Scarsdale resident, took his first CPR and first aid class at Scarsdale High School in 1975. Soon after turning 18, Raizen jumped in the ambulance and never looked back, receiving his EMT certificate in 1979 and becoming a paramedic in 2017.
A humble leader, Raizen was nominated by his agency, which now has more than 100 volunteers, 19 paid paramedics and two volunteer paramedics, of which Raizen is one.
“David shows great leadership by doing what is best for the residents of Scarsdale,” wrote agency representatives in the award nomination application. “[David] puts himself out constantly, standing up for what is in our best interest.”
Raizen and paramedic Wolfgang Lawton both received lifesaving awards for resuscitating the man who overdosed on heroin. Paramedic Alyssa Murray, paramedic Heliodoro Mendes and EMT Deborah Fuchs also received EMS citations for their response to the overdose.
Another lifesaving award went to Raizen, paramedic Robert Rizzo, EMT James Gross and EMT Elissa Schilmeister for their successful resuscitation of a man who fell into a pool and was underwater for five minutes. A police officer on scene provided CPR until paramedics and EMS arrived to administer advanced life support treatment. They were able to restore the man’s pulse and breathing, and two hours later he was conscious and alert in the hospital.
Officer Anthony Santana, Officer Michael Coyne, Sergeant Michael Siciliano and Officer Victoria Wanterman also received lifesaving awards for their assistance with the drowning victim.
Scarsdale police Officer Maxwell Goldberg won the EMS Volunteer of the Year award for his service as a volunteer EMT in Eastchester.
The agency was also awarded the Chairman’s Award for its continued effort to educate those interested in becoming EMTs and offering the only Advanced EMT certification course in the county.
“We have successfully run 21 EMT classes and have a 99% passing rate,” said Raizen. “Roughly 250 people have taken the class in three years.”
SVAC’s goal is to get people to ride in the ambulance and develop an interest in becoming an EMT, a program Raizen said has become “quasi-successful.”
Like many first responder agencies across the country, SVAC struggles with membership, especially with the demand of more than 1,800 calls annually. The corps doesn’t rely on tax dollars, rather it operates exclusively on donations and soft billing for services.
Sometimes the agency is able to break even and sometimes it’s left a little bit in the red.
“I don’t ride in the ambulance [for] awards, [that’s] not my gig,” said Raizen who will turn 60 in June. “I’m psyched for the class … not for something individual.”