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Connor Bell's Fundraiser:

BSVAC NY Legislature Grant

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Connor Bell

THE STORY:

BSVAC is the nation’s first multi-racial volunteer ambulance corps and EMT training facility, founded in 1988 by two EMS workers, Captain James "Rocky" Robinson" and Specialist Joe Perez. "The Vollies" serve a community disproportionately affected by physical and economic trauma. When BSVAC first began operations, the neighborhood was ravaged by violence related to crack cocaine. Bed-Stuy was described by the national media at the time as "The American Beirut," and the response time for city ambulances averaged about 30 minutes. That was unacceptable to Rocky and Joe, who volunteered their free time to respond to emergency calls on foot, arriving to the scene within 5 minutes. Bed-Stuy residents began to refer to them as "The People's EMS." Today, BSVAC responds to over 100 emergency calls a month with an average response time of less than 4 minutes. In addition to medical services, BSVAC has worked tirelessly to teach life-saving skills to Bed-Stuy residents and connect them to careers in emergency medicine. Rocky and Joe taught young men and women, many of whom were caught up in gangs or drugs, that they could have meaningful careers as life-savers. To date, thousands of local residents have been trained through certified CPR, first aid and EMT training programs. Graduates have attained full-time positions as EMTs, and some even go on to become paramedics, nurses, physicians' assistants, and doctors. While Bed-Stuy has come a long way since the days of BSVAC's founding, the neighborhood still exhibits stark disparities. The rate of felony assaults in Bed-Stuy stood around 5.9 per 1,000 residents in 2013, as compared to 2.4 per 1,000 across the whole city. And in some of the Bed-Stuy census tracts, the median household income is just $19,000, about $33,000 less than the median in New York City as a whole. BSVAC treats gun shot and stabbing wounds regularly, and our classroom is constantly packed with residents trying to start secure careers. The New York State Legislature has awarded BSVAC a $125,000 reimbursement grant, which means that BSVAC first must raise and spend that amount on its own in order to receive the funds. The Vollies urgently need these funds for capital investments--a true base, new ambulances, medical equipment--and to cover its operating expenses.

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