“They never thought black guys would want to save lives”
October 4, 2019 3:09 PM   Subscribe

James Robinson, 79, Dies; Filled an Ambulance Gap in Brooklyn: Frustrated that responses to emergency calls took too long in Bedford-Stuyvesant, he started a volunteer ambulance corps, and it’s been nimble. At first he and a friend with whom he started the corps listened to police and fire department radios and went to addresses they heard on the air — accident scenes or apartments where sick people needed help. They answered the calls in their own cars. Before long they got an ambulance [in 1990], the first of several that the corps would operate. Mr. Robinson recalled in 2017 that on the first day with the first ambulance, the corps treated 10 people at the scene of a fire. On the second day, corps members delivered a baby.
James "Rocky" Robinson, Founder of Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Receives the Community Service Award (New York State Senate): Eventually BSVAC established a record-breaking ambulance service that has responded to over 400 emergency calls a month with an average response time of less than 4 minutes.[...] Rocky designed a comprehensive emergency medical training program including Trauma Troopers, First Responders, and Youth Corps. To date, thousands of local residents have been trained to save lives in emergencies. In addition, hundreds of young people have completed the youth Corps program (basic EMT training), and almost 100 of the graduates have become EMTs or have otherwise pursued careers in medicine as nurses, physician’s assistants, or doctors.

Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corps Founder James Robinson Dies (Patch): Through BSVAC, Robinson provided emergency medical training to minority communities across the United States, responded to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and helped save the life of a firefighter on 9/11, his New York state senate biography reads. BSVAC responded to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, and it sent the first medical support team to reach Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
posted by not_the_water (31 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:35 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by supermedusa at 3:40 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by evilDoug at 3:58 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by PMdixon at 4:03 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by suelac at 4:12 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by sallybrown at 4:17 PM on October 4, 2019


This is an awesome thing to (finally) learn about and...

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posted by sjswitzer at 4:22 PM on October 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by wotsac at 4:23 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by Silvery Fish at 4:26 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by tobascodagama at 4:28 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by mordax at 4:40 PM on October 4, 2019



posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:57 PM on October 4, 2019


Like Uber, but for helping people.
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posted by stet at 5:01 PM on October 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


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posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 5:40 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by zengargoyle at 6:09 PM on October 4, 2019


This is what a real hero looks like
posted by supermedusa at 6:24 PM on October 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Thank you for posting this. It's good to be reminded of the power that good will and service still have in the world.
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posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:47 PM on October 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


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posted by kerf at 7:59 PM on October 4, 2019


A shame to lose anyone! But just to note, volunteer fire and ems is pretty standard in many places. I've served in NJ where paid services are uncommon.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:26 PM on October 4, 2019


Some people do genuine good with their lives. What a privilege to learn about this one.

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posted by emjaybee at 9:01 PM on October 4, 2019


Thanks for this post, I'm sorry to learn of Mr. Robinson only through his passing.

blaneyphoto: But just to note, volunteer fire and ems is pretty standard in many places. I've served in NJ where paid services are uncommon.

I imagine that the way that James Robinson and his friend started is not how volunteer services generally work, listening to a scanner and driving their own vehicles.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:08 PM on October 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


But just to note, volunteer fire and ems is pretty standard in many places.
This is in fact mentioned in the article! "That was the catch about E.M.S. when I got there: You had to have a driver’s license and your E.M.T. card to join E.M.S.,” Dr. Kuehl said. “I needed to have a way for ghetto kids to get that card like the kids on suburban Long Island” — where volunteer fire departments are entrenched in many towns and villages — and provide training."
posted by btfreek at 9:28 PM on October 4, 2019 [13 favorites]


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posted by bryon at 9:31 PM on October 4, 2019


Extraordinary guy. Rip.
posted by shaademaan at 10:09 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:49 PM on October 4, 2019


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posted by XMLicious at 7:02 AM on October 5, 2019


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posted by LobsterMitten at 8:21 AM on October 5, 2019


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posted by freecellwizard at 8:36 AM on October 5, 2019


Does anyone know anything about this ambulance company?

I've been thinking about getting back into EMS, but I don't really know anything or anyone in the NYC volunteer EMS scene. They don't appear to have a website, and the few yelp reviews are clearly pissed-off people being pissed off.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 3:04 PM on October 5, 2019


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posted by daybeforetheday at 2:32 AM on October 6, 2019


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posted by seyirci at 2:49 PM on October 7, 2019


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