Unsung Hero Robert Divinagracia: New City Emergency Medical Technician Volunteer

By Barry Warner

Emergency Medical Technician Robert Divinagracia must be able to physically lift patients and other heavy equipment, climb up and down stairs and handle other adverse conditions. With his partner, he is called on to treat patients of all ages and ethnic backgrounds at anytime during his twelve hour shift.

The New City Volunteer Ambulance Corps responds to medical emergency calls 24/7, which are characterized as Basic Life Support. These responses cover breathing and cardiac emergencies that include Cardio- Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), use of the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and obstructed-airway procedures for adults, children and infants. The goals of the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) on board the ambulance are to provide urgent medical treatment to the patients and their subsequent transportation to the emergency departments of local hospitals.

New City Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Captain Rob Bernstein said, “Robert Divinagracia joined New City Ambulance as a volunteer in August of 2014. In the same year, he won the Dr. John Lounibos Award from Dominican College, which is presented to an Alpha Chi Honor Society member who exhibits outstanding commitment to scholarship and service to the community. In May of 2015, he received his certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. Robert has always exhibited professionalism and compassion for his patients, as well as a commitment to the Ambulance Corps. Whenever we need someone to fill a shift, he will always step up.”

“Together with my EMT partner, whoever that might be for any given shift, we respond to emergency medical calls as a Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance crew. During our twelve hour shift, we respond to all calls our dispatcher assigns us to. Most calls that we are assigned to are usually located within our ambulance agency’s coverage in New City. Sometimes we respond to our neighboring municipalities to provide mutual aid-support. Ambulance agencies neighboring us provide the same mutual aid-support to us when needed. Following New York State’s BLS/EMS protocols, our volunteer ambulance’s local protocols and the training we received to get certified as EMTs, we provide pre-hospital care to all patients we encounter, using our best clinical judgment and most positive patient outcome results in mind as well” said Robert Divinagracia. “Very unique and specific to the job of EMTs, is the fact that we make many decisions. No call we take is exactly the same as the one we have taken before, so we must be able to ‘think on our feet’ and adapt well to the situation we are placed in. We are always thinking and planning our next move. Being decisive and efficient is in the blood of all EMTs. In addition, we are always on the lookout to keep our patients as well as our partners, safe at all times.”

Divinagracia continued, “As medically trained personnel, we essentially are an extension of the emergency room. From our training, we are able to properly assess and treat patients, as well as transport patients to a local hospital. We also must be able to physically lift patients and other heavy equipment, climb up and down stairs and handle other adverse conditions. Our job setting varies tremendously as we can be called to respond to the middle of a ball field, home residence or commercial place. We are called to patients of all ages and ethnic backgrounds at anytime during the day or night. At the scene of any given call, we may find ourselves working together with paramedics, police officers, firefighters or other first responders. It is amazing the things that get accomplished when we all work together. When we bring patients to the emergency room, we primarily interact with nurses, doctors, Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practitioners. Given the high variability of the job, teamwork is an absolute key for a successful day on the job. Communicating well and establishing good chemistry with our working partners is essential to get through any call and in general, to get though the long twelve hour shift.”

“I volunteer because being part of something much larger than myself is extremely powerful to me. Since 2014, I have become a volunteer member of the New City Volunteer Corps and take great pride in what I do and also what the Ambulance Corps stands for. Every shift is a new opportunity to give my efforts to provide the best pre-hospital care to patients, to strengthen bonds or to make new bonds with my partners and practice and improve upon at least one skill I utilize during a call. It really is a privilege to go out and serve the community in this way.”

According to the website www.newcityems.org , each ambulance is equipped with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) which is of critical value in cardiac emergencies. The AED is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electrical shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. To improve response time, a Global Positioning System (GPS) street address locator was recently installed. This mechanism provides explicit road directions to the location of any accident area or medical emergency address. To enhance the GPS response device, an ‘Opticon System’ has been incorporated. This system can override a traffic signal light, permitting it to be changed as necessary in order to expedite movement in traffic.

For additional information, e-mail the New City Volunteer Ambulance Corps at info@newcityems.org or call 845-639-7060.