Erik P. Steciak
Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company
Bel Air, Maryland
Erik P. Steciak of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company in Bel Air, Maryland, died at the age of 29 on January 6, 2015. Erik joined the department in December 2011 and made a huge impact on the department and everyone he met. Fire and EMS service was not just a job it was his passion; helping people in any way possible was his goal.
As a Paramedic he was known to be a mentor and helped new members obtain certification. Numerous times members stated that the only reason they were able to pass was the passion and assistance they received from Erik.
Erik and his partner were dispatched to a motor vehicle crash on January 6, 2015. The hazardous road conditions made it necessary for additional units and, while assisting those units, Erik was struck by another unit and later died at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center.
David J. Schneider, Jr.
David Schneider’s career as a pilot spanned 25 years. He was no stranger to serving, not only his community in EMS, but his country. In the U.S. Army, he was a Warrant Officer and a special operations pilot serving multiple combat tours in the Middle East.
David was a passionate outdoorsman, and before a career in EMS, once worked as a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park — and flew chartered tours in Hawaii.
On the evening of December 15, 2015, Native Air 5, while returning to base in Globe, Arizona, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, crashed into the Superstitions Mountains.
New York, New York
Tyrone was an EMT’s EMT. Having started his career in the New York City Emergency Medical Service, he cared for everyone he knew as if they were members of his own family especially the kids in the neighborhood. “Ty” worked on one of the busiest ambulances in the City of New York responding to more calls for help in one month than many ambulances around the country responded to in a year. When other units heard “Charlie of the 3-4” on the air they knew Ty was there to help.
Having worked in some of the meanest streets in the city, Tyrone witnessed on a first-hand basis what could happen to the younger residents of the area. This led him to help organize the first EMS Explorer Post in NYC with a small group of neighborhood kids who routinely spent time hanging out in front of his ambulance garage. The kids would follow ambulances and fire trucks to big jobs on their bicycles. Tyrone drafted other members of the station to help the kids with homework and insisted they stay in school. Many of the kids went on to enter the FDNY High School of Fire and Life Safety, earning jobs in EMS related fields, including FDNY EMS upon graduation.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Tyrone responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center and spent many hours searching the rubble in the days following. At the time he did not know the dust he was exposed to would eventually prove fatal. As a result of this exposure, he died on March 7, 2013. Tyrone’s legacy lives on in the hundreds of children he helped throughout his life.
Ronald Scott Rector
Arch Air Medical Services
St. Louis, Missouri
Ron was described as a hard charger in-life, warrior for our nation, provider for his family and a friend to all who knew him.
On March 7, 2015, after dropping off his crew and their patient at the St. Louis University Hospital, Ron flew to their downtown base to refuel so they could respond to another flight request if needed. On his way back to the hospital to pick up his crew, his helicopter crashed just before reaching the hospital.
“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and don a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew
And while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”
Ron is greatly missed by his family, his coworkers, and his many friends.
Kenneth D. Prunty
Kenneth “Ken” Prunty was a Paramedic for the Tri-Community Ambulance and joined the department June 3, remaining with the ambulance group for 31 years. He began as a volunteer First Responder and then became an EMT, eventually moving to Paramedic. He was a great provider and exceptional leader. Ken took on any duties that were given and asked for more. He was a self-starter and motivated.
Ken died on November 22, 2014 after responding to a call and returning to the station at the age of 50. He will be remembered by his service as a great educator, mentor, and friend.
Spotswood Emergency Medical Services
Old Bridge, New Jersey
Hinal Patel was born February 6, 1993 in Edison, New Jersey to Ketan A. and Darshana K. Patel. She lived in Piscataway all her life.
She was a graduate of Piscataway High School and received her Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in May 2015; she would have been attending Newark Bio Medical School for her Master’s in the fall of that year.
Hinal worked for Spotswood EMS and was a summer intern for Actavis in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She was a volunteer for North Shelton Rescue Squad in Piscataway and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. She loved socializing and going to the beach. She was very family oriented and enjoyed spending time with them.
On Saturday, July 25, 2015, Hinal and her partner were responding to assist East Brunswick Rescue Squad on a motor vehicle crash with injuries when the ambulance was struck by another vehicle.
Ralph E. Oswald
Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps
Hampton Bays, New York
Ralph dedicated his life to his community, serving as a member of the North Lindenhurst Fire Department, Dix Hills Fire Department, Ocean Beach Volunteer Fire Company and Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
He was also training a next generation of Suffolk County first responders, teaching an EMT course at the ambulance corps in which one of his own sons is a student. The citizens of his community are indebted to Ralph and all of the first responders who risk their lives every day in order to protect and save them in our time of need.
On February 9, 2015, Ralph responded to a call of an unresponsive male. While providing an assessment on the patient he told his co-workers he was experiencing distress and then collapsed in cardiac arrest.
You are always with me; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterword you will take me into glory…I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. Psalm 73:23-28
William C. Olsen
New York, New York
Born in Brooklyn, Bill attended Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School, and in 1980, he started a career with the New York City Emergency Medical Service. This was a 30-year career that would bring him to the aide of countless people in need of help, including the first and second attacks on the World Trade Center. He worked tirelessly in the weeks and months following both attacks.
One of the many monikers he carried was “Captain Black Cloud” as many a quiet shift was suddenly ruined when he came on duty. Having worked in various roles including communications and special operations, Captain Olsen was well respected and many officers would seek him out for advice and guidance. Committed to public service in every aspect of his life, he also volunteered as an EMT with Bravo Volunteer Ambulance Services in Brooklyn.
Mr. Olsen was an avid New York Yankees and football Giants fan, and was a Civil War history enthusiast. He enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his two granddaughters.
He retired in 2010 from FDNY EMS Station 23 in Rossville on Staten Island. On June 1, 2014, Bill succumbed to illness directly related to the time spent searching the debris in the rescue and recovery operations at Ground Zero.
New York, New York
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Linda Ohlson and her husband Rudy, also a first responder, were on the site of the worst terror attacks on American soil at New York City’s World Trade Center. Neither knew at the time that the events that unfolded would affect them for the rest of their lives, eventually taking both. In 2008 Rudy succumbed to years of suffering severe PTSD.
Never looking for pity, Linda became active in many groups, including the National Survivors of Suicide. She found help in using the pain she endured to help others. “I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, as hard as that is to say sometimes,” she said. “I have helped a lot of people, and try to help anyone I can. There is a lot of help out there, so if you know someone or have the urge yourself, get help. It’s not a joke.”
Even as her illness worsened, her employees knew her as an amazing boss who was always happy and giddy and “down for anything.” Many accredited her with making work enjoyable by just being there.
Linda died of complications of illness directly related to exposure of toxins at the World Trade Center site on February 17, 2014.
New York, New York
Doug, like many other first responders, lived a life of service. In 1985, he joined the ranks of the Lindenhurst Volunteer Fire Department in his hometown on Long Island, rising to the rank of Captain. Doug attended EMT school and in 1987 became a member of the New York City Emergency Medical Service working in Brooklyn and Queens. He received his Paramedic certification in 1989 and promotion to Lieutenant in 2006.
Doug was honored for his distinguished service, both career and volunteer, including receiving medals for pulling an unconscious woman from a burning house, an Excellent Duty Award, and over 50 Pre-Hospital Save Awards throughout his career. He also responded to many disasters, including the crash of TWA flight 800 and the first and second attack on the World Trade Center.
In 2010, Doug was diagnosed with cancer as a result of the toxins he was exposed to while operating at Ground Zero. Although the cancer metastasized throughout his body, Doug continued to work until the effects of the illness and the treatments prohibited further work. He succumbed to his illness on May 28, 2013.