BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A Brooklyn volunteer group received special recognition Thursday for its response to the deadly shootings of two NYPD officers late last year.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilmember Robert Cornegy awarded members of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps with a proclamation for their work in attempting to save Dets. Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos on Dec. 20.
“Thank you for your fine work and dedication to saving lives,” Cornegy said, addressing commander James “Rocky” Robinson and more than 20 volunteer EMTs and trainees in attendance at City Hall.
At least seven members from the Greene Avenue medical station came to the aid of the wounded officers after they were gunned down on Myrtle and Tompkins avenues. The crew performed CPR on both men and rushed Ramos to Woodhull Hospital as other medical professionals followed close behind with Liu.
“We’re honoring them for that day, but they are also so much more,” Cornegy said Thursday.
“They’ve provided opportunities for young people in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights for decades…giving them an opportunity to live a life that’s fruitful and to be productive members of society.”
Established in 1988 by Robinson and Joe Perez, the not-for-profit offers free EMT training services for more than 2,000 local residents. Many individuals who go through the program seek to leave behind lives of crime, Robinson told DNAinfo New York.
“Instead of them turning to pick up the gun or pick up the knife, I give them a stethoscope,” he said.
They're credited with saving those in need, but the ambulance corps is now looking for some aid of their own, members said.
“The Vollies” recently tried to raise $125,000 in an online campaign after receiving a reimbursement grant from the New York State Legislature. The fundraiser ended on Feb. 13 and helped collect $13,751. Members are seeking to raise the remaining balance through donations and outdoor collections.
The organization has been "hand-to-mouth" for 27 years, according to Tamsin Wolf, vice president and general counsel for BSVAC. Most recently, legislative grants and Robinson’s reverse mortgage and pension funds helped sustain the volunteer corps, the founder said.
The group operates on an average annual budget of $250,000 and hopes to use donations for a new ambulance, medical and training equipment and repairs to the trailer headquarters. While their current vehicles are in desperate need of restoration, BSVAC still has a response time of four minutes, according to members.
“Unfortunately, when we responded to the call of the police officers being shot, we only had one ambulance that could answer the call because we didn’t have money for insurance and repairs for two,” Wolf said.
“Maybe if we had two, we might have been able to save them.”
For more information on BSVAC or to donate, visit their website.