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Harrison Chief Stays Active in Unique EMS Service

While waiting at a downtown Harrison bagel shop in early May, Emergency Medical Services Chief Joseph Bilotto was tapped on his shoulder by a mother with her child. Though he didn’t remember her at first, a brief description of what he did two years ago to save the child’s life reminded him why he did what he did.“She drove her child to the EMS because she was having trouble breathing, so I took them to the hospital,” he said. And after an argument with the doctors who were miscalculating the diagnosis, Bilotti’s diagnosos was correct and led to the life-saving treatment.Seeing a chief of operations out on a call with the local EMS isn’t a common sight. But Bilotto made it a top priority to stay active in the firsthand rescue activities and continued helping residents in need face-to-face.“You’ll lose it if you don’t use it,” Bilotto said. “I make it a point to ride the ambulance every Friday to keep up my skills set.”When he’s not on calls, Bilotto said he spends a lot of time on administrative work such as finding funding to keep the crew afloat. But it’s not what he said keeps him motivated.He said it’s the adrenaline rush that comes from being a firsthand responder that he enjoys most.“I need to be out on the streets helping people,” he said. “I’d rather be the first person to a scene to help out than be inside of a building all day.”Bilotto was named paramedic of the year in 2006 and educator of the year in 2010 by Westchester County.Bilotto keeps active in educating the next generation in emergency service personnel. As of the fourth quarter of the local high schools’ marking periods, he said his crew supported an intern staff of 12 students who get an up-close experience of life as an Emergency Medical Technician.Medical Director Tim Haydock runs White Plains hospital and works closely with Bilotto in what he referred to as keeping the service on the cutting edge. They recently implemented the use of a new CPR device known as the Lucas 2, which straps onto victims and allows EMTs more freedom to help out in other ways rather than working so intensively.The Harrison crew, which shifted from volunteer to all-paid in 2005, also requires more experience before joining.“We hold our guys to a higher standard than a lot of places,” Bilotto said, who has new crew members take an extra advanced exam before serving.

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