Life-savers party with a purpose

Commander James Robinson welcomes members and community residents.

Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC) Headquarters celebrated 24 years of saving lives and training the next generation of life-savers on July 14 during its annual all-day block party, complete with home-cooked food, live music, games, free health screening, EMS motorcade march, and much more.

BSVAC’s anniversary celebration has become a neighborhood fixture and it gives the community an opportunity to see the life saving organization up close.

“This year we have an extra reason to celebrate. Through the generosity of our friends and supporters, BSVAC now has a newly reconditioned 2006 ambulance to replace our 1993 ambulance,” said Commander James Robinson.

All were invited to join the BSVAC family and help celebrate more than two decades of providing emergency medical services to our community – responding to over 1,200 calls per year – and saving lives wherever else the need arises.

Robinson said, “at BSVAC we are proud of our tradition of ‘putting the help where the hurt is’ and responding to disasters throughout New York, the U.S. and even abroad, including the Queens air disaster, the first World Trade Center bombing, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti.

“We are also proud of our training programs and the thousands of first responders and hundreds of EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) we have trained, many of them former gang members or youngsters at risk. By learning how to save lives, they have turned their own lives around and become positive role models, helping BSVAC continue to shine as a beacon of hope.”

BSVAC currently needs support for the costs of insurance and medical equipment/supplies to outfit the reconditioned ambulance.

Life-savers party with a purposea performer and graduate of BSVAC with the highest score in her cycle and in the state.
Photo by Lem Peterkin

It is the nation’s only ethnically inclusive volunteer ambulance corps and is popularly known as the People’s EMS.

BSVAC’s mission is two-fold: to save lives (through its neighborhood first responder station and its ambulance service) and to change lives (through its emergency medical training programs).

In 1988 two EMS workers, Captain James Robinson (African American) and Specialist Joe Perez (Latino), founded the BSVAC with the assistance of Tamsin Wolf (Orthodox Jew), a volunteer lawyer. The creation of BSVAC was their response to the crisis in emergency medical service that afflicts New York’s minority communities.

When BSVAC first began operations, the response time in Bed-Stuy for city ambulances averaged about 30 minutes. BSVAC established a record-breaking ambulance service that currently maintains an average response time of less than four minutes. BSVAC also established a neighborhood first aid center and has worked to promote preventive health care in the ommunity. BSVAC has lost count of the number of lives it has saved.

BSVAC has received numerous honors, including Robin Hood Foundation Hero of the Year Award, New York City Hero Award, American Institute for Public Service Jefferson Award, Points of Light Award (presented by President George Bush), and Maxwell House Hero Search Award.

Contact: Capt. James (“Rocky”) Robinson – 347-663-2672 or 917-567-9634.

Stacey Ward accepts her certificate from Commander James Robinson.
Photos by Lem Peterkin
Photo by Lem Peterkin

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