ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — A ceremony was held on Tuesday honoring those who put their lives on the line. The Emergency Medical Services community and Department of Health remembered 10 fallen EMS heroes. The ceremony is usually held at the Tree of Life memorial on the Empire State Plaza, but got moved indoors because of the rain. An additional 10 honorees were added to the tree.

Three of those heroes lost their lives to COVID-19, six succumbed to illnesses they developed while responding to 9/11, and one passed away from a medical episode while on the job.

“It’s a pointed reminder, to us in the EMS and hopefully to the communities that we serve, that we face real danger day in and day out. We truly do care… no one does it for the money. We do it to serve, it’s an innate characteristic that many of us share. We’re there to care and we’re there to help,” said George June, Chief of EMS for the Town of Catskills Ambulance Services.

Family members received a folded flag that’s been flown over the Capitol along with and Star of Life plaque, identical to the one which will be added to the memorial on the plaza. 

Ryan Greenberg is Director of the Bureau of EMS & Trauma Systems. He says in remembrance of those lives lost, he wants to give special thanks to the families, “Their family members are the ones who allowed them to go out and to do the job and to care for people that they didn’t even know. It’s really important for us to remember both their names, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, but also for those family members to remember that they’re always going to be remembered. And this monument is just one small portion of that memory.”

Greenberg says he wants the public to know that our EMS community is cut from a different cloth and the work they do is immeasurable, “They’re the ones who get up in the middle of the night and go help people, who run towards danger when everybody else is running away. They’re the ones who go out there and help anybody in need. Even if it means that they will have to sacrifice their lives.”