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.
Bergen Fire Department, Inc.
Bergen, New York
Barry Miller served the citizens of his community for all of his adult life. At 50 years of age, he had served with the Bergen Fire Department for 32 years – so long that he had been granted “life member” status.
He served in various leadership capacities over the years and also in multiple positions on the department’s Board of Directors. He also earned the distinction of being one of the department’s most active responders over the entire 32-year period.
In addition to being the Department’s Assistant Chief over EMS, he also served as his county’s coroner and had previously served on the town board. He was truly the backbone of the department and a pillar of his community.
Tragically, Assistant Chief Miller was killed in the line of duty on September 23, 2015 while he and two others responded in an ambulance to a report of a person having difficulty breathing. As they crested a hill, the ambulance struck the rear of a slow moving backhoe. The accident was attributed to low visibility due to fog and the ambulance’s driver being temporarily blinded by sunlight. Honored 2016
New York, New York
Harold McNeil joined the New York City Emergency Medical Service in 1975 after serving in the United States Marine Corps. Working the streets in the “War Days,” Harold quickly gained a reputation for being a “go-to guy”. As a Lieutenant, Harold earned the respect of his peers and subordinates for being a true gentleman and a fair officer who put the concerns of his employees before his own. Like many of his coworkers, Harold responded to and spent countless hours at the World Trade Center following the attacks on September 11, 2001.
His employees recall that, after the attacks on 9/11, the department was handing out medals to the employees. On payday, without fanfare, he felt the honor deserved so he organized a formal award ceremony at his station. Many say, “He didn’t work at station 31. He WAS Station 31”. Harold retired in 2004 to Pennsylvania where he drove a school bus and stayed active in his community and church, singing in the choir and knitting hats for infants and preemies for a local hospital.
Harold died on September 8, 2015 from complications of exposure to toxins at the World Trade Center site. He will be remembered for his encouraging words, warm smile, and an inviting embrace. Honored 2016
William L. McKinney, Jr.
Rockingham County EMS
Wentworth, North Carolina
Captain William “Billy” L. McKinney Jr. of Rockingham County EMS, in Wentworth, North Carolina, died January 14, 2015 at the age of 42. The morning of January 14 Billy had just completed his 12-hour rotation and was headed home. The weather was poor with freezing rain, sleet, and hazardous road conditions reported. While traveling home, Billy stopped to assist a motorist in an accident due to road conditions. While assisting the motorist, he was struck and killed.
William began his career with Rockingham County EMS as a part-time EMT. He attended Rockingham Community College and received his Paramedic certification and was hired as a full-time Paramedic in 1997. Billy continued his career and was promoted to Lieutenant and then to Shift Captain in September 2014. Billy was a husband as well as a father to two daughters. Honored 2016
Matt Michael Mathews
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Matt loved flying helicopters. It was his life goal to help others. Flying was a huge part of him.
He served in the United States Army for 18 years, serving two deployments to Iraq. He held the responsibility of flying a Chinook helicopter. According to his co-pilot he was always in really good spirits, joking all the time. But when it came time to get serious, he would get right down to business.
Matt had three wishes in life: to serve in his country, to fly a helicopter and to meet someone he loved. He accomplished all three. His fiancée Lisa Lee said that every day he would say “I’ve got to get sleep because I’ve got to go save lives.”
Matt gave his life in the line of duty on March 13, 2015. While responding to pick up a patient, Matt’s helicopter went down.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13