Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC), the nation’s only multi-racial volunteer ambulance corps, was founded in 1988 by two EMS workers, Captain James ("Rocky") Robinson and Specialist Joe Perez. It was my great honor to be able to assist them as a pro bono lawyer. The creation of BSVAC was in 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 maintaining an average response time of less than 4 minutes. BSVAC also established a neighborhood first aid center and has worked to promote preventive health care in the community. BSVAC has lost count of the number of lives it has saved.
In addition to its work in Brooklyn, BSVAC is an internationally recognized life-saving organization, that has responded to emergencies throughout the U.S. (including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Queens air disaster, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy) and abroad; it was the first organization to send volunteer medical personnel to Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake. More locally, BSVAC was a first responder to the East Harlem blast in March 2014 and BSVAC responded to the tragic shooting in Bed-Stuy of police officers Wenjan Liu and Rafael Ramos in December 2014. BSVAC has also been in the forefront of responding to the COVID-19 crisis that first appeared in the NYC in early 2020.
As someone who has been with BSVAC from the beginning, it has been my privilege to see the organization confront and overcome more than three decades of challenges and repeatedly achieve what would seem to be impossible. One of my roles has been to help EMT students who have been caught up in the legal system secure required permission from NYS to take the certification examination. Helping these students realize their dreams of becoming life savers has been the most gratifying experience I have had in a long career as a lawyer.
Checkout their amazing life saving work at BSVAC.org