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Harrison EMS Chief Doesn't Rest for Thanksgiving

HARRISON, N.Y. - Emergencies don't take breaks and neither does Harrison Emergency Medical Services Chief Joe Bilotto.

Bilotto said he expects a "business as usual" Thanksgiving holiday, stocked with two on-duty crews and supervisors on call. After 17 years on the job, he said he knows more or less what to expect come the holidays.

"We usually see a lot of car accidents before and after dinner time," Bilotto said. "We also always get a cardiac arrest. It never fails."

Three years ago, Harrison emergency responders helped revive a woman who choked at the dinner table, Bilotto said. Every year since, she has called Bilotto and the EMS crew come Thanksgiving time to thank them for making each following holiday possible.

"You never know what to expect," Bilotto said. "But we've got a highly-trained staff that is capable of handling whatever might happen."

In preparation of the holiday, the EMS crew stocked and prepped all of its emergency vehicles so that any may be utilized come holiday time. Bilotto also sends workers shopping to stock the headquarters with warming holiday food items to keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive.

Bilotto said his emergency pager has interrupted dinners before and Thanksgiving will not be an exception. Though he may be out of town visiting family for the holiday, he will also remain on call in the event of a major emergency that requires his assistance.

"I'm always on edge, listening to my radio 24/7," Bilotto said. "You can't keep me away from the big one. That's what we train for."

And staffing for the holidays has been the least of the troubles at the Harrison EMS. Bilotto said that most single emergency responders volunteered to work for Thanksgiving, allowing for those with families to stay home.

"We're here if you need us," Bilotto said. "That's not going to change."

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