Unsung Heroes Teresa A. Hamilton and MaryFrances Ginnity Zayas: Haverstraw Ambulance Corps Volunteers

By Barry Warner

Screen Shot 2016-12-29 at 10.33.58 AMThe Haverstraw Volunteer Ambulance Corps’ (HVAC) mission is to provide emergency medical care and treatment of the sick and injured to persons in the Town of Haverstraw, to provide treatment consistent with its level of training and certification as New York State EMT-Basics and provide transportation to the most appropriate local hospital facility. President of the HVAC William Stone complimented volunteers Captain Teresa A. Hamilton and MaryFrances Ginnity Zayas on their longevity, family roots and dedication to the agency.

William Stone indicated that Captain Teresa A. Hamilton was one of the first Youth Corps members that the HVAC had. Her father and mother were members of the HVAC and she saw their vision and followed in their footsteps. As Captain of HVAC, Teresa has held this position for the second time during her membership and she is now in her 8th year of this position. Her conviction to volunteerism has helped HVAC achieve advancement in equipment for the ambulances that provide the latest in technology for use in the treatment of the community members when sick or injured. She would never ask someone to do anything that she herself is not willing to do. Teresa had a difficult time seeing HVAC extend itself into becoming a hybrid agency, but she refocused her vision and has helped us bring the agency call volume back over 3,000 calls per year and reducing the need to bring our neighboring volunteer agencies into our area to cover calls. When she gets something in her mind that she feels needs to be done better in the agency, she is relentless in her quest. She will research various ways to accomplish these goals and then ways to implement them. She is not the person that waits for the ‘exciting call’, she is the one that goes above and beyond to ‘do the right thing’ for the community. She has rearranged her personal schedule on many occasions to be sure we stay in service and often will be the one to do the favor for someone needing EMS transport that is out of the ordinary scope, but within the guidelines of our day to day operation. Although never an easy position to be in, Teresa has done her best to maintain the integrity and manage the difficult day to day operations of a large call-volume EMS agency. Under her leadership, HVAC has been awarded several recognitions from the County of Rockland EMS division as well as the State EMS association, NYSVARA for agency of the year and on several occasions, BLS provider of the year and Youth Corps member of the year.

Captain Teresa A. Hamilton told the Rockland County Times, “I am a New York State Certified Emergency Medical Technician. To become an EMT, the initial class was approximately 150 hours of training. Every 3 years, recertification is about 72 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME). My primary function at HVAC is to provide pre -hospital emergency care to the community members in the Town of Haverstraw and anyone visiting the area requiring emergency medical attention. Next, I was elected to the position of Captain and in this capacity I am responsible to oversee the day to day operation of the volunteer agency. Included in this responsibility is scheduling, ordering equipment, approving supply orders, upkeep of vehicles and being sure new members have the required certifications. I am a liaison between the agency and the community, the agency and Town hall, the police department and other EMS agencies. My parents were active volunteer members of HVAC. They held positions as officers and spent a great deal of time volunteering. As I was an only child, I went everywhere with my parents and growing up I spent a lot of time at the ambulance building. EMS was a way of life in my house as HVAC and the members were my extended family. I joined HVAC when I was 13 years old and was one of the first Youth Corps members. Being able to give back to the community that I grew up in has been very gratifying. The area has changed dramatically and so has the need for emergency medical services. To be able to offer pre-hospital emergency care to someone and potentially to be the difference between life and death is a feeling that cannot be described.”

William Stone stated, “MaryFrances Ginnity Zayas has strong family-vested roots in the HVAC. Going as far back as her grandfather, many members including her mother, father, aunts and assorted other members of her family were members, but in her grandfather’s case, a founding member. She has held the position as Treasurer of the agency as long as I can remember and then some. Her meticulous manner with the budget and maintaining the financial matters of the agency are amazing. She has been able to assist moving the agency forward, meeting the demands and needs of the ever changing scope of practice, without compromising the integrity of her position. Although the vision of HVAC has always been that of a volunteer agency, times have changed and unfortunately, so has the status of volunteers. When HVAC was having difficulty scheduling crews and getting ambulances on the road, the vision changed as we needed to find a solution. Becoming a hybrid agency was the only solution and MaryFrances made sure that we adhered to a tight schedule and budget and made it work. Her dedication of nearly 20 years to the agency has proven to be invaluable. She spends a great deal of time helping me with the day to day administrative duties of the agency from making sure the building is properly maintained to forward thinking of what the future may hold for the agency and coming up ways we can meet our goals. While at the agency working on the bills and other administrative matters, MaryFrances offers her time to pick up ambulance calls if she is needed to assure the community is cared for. She is responsible for presenting prospective new EMTs to the board of directors for employment to help cover our schedule where volunteers are unable to cover. She manages their schedule plus their time and payroll. In many cases she is the direct reason we have ambulances on the road. MaryFrances has seen the worst of times and the best of times at HVAC and has always put her heart into the agency in an effort to carry out the vision her family saw for the HVAC during its inception.”

MaryFrances Ginnity Zayas said, “I joined the HVAC when I was 14 years old in 1987 as a Junior Corps member and went on to become a Senior Corps member in 1991 when I received my New York State Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license. In 1993 I resigned from the Corps to attend college and rejoined the Corps in 1999. Eventually, I became a line officer as a 2nd Lieutenant and moved up to 1st lieutenant. I took the Emergency Vehicle Driver Training Course (EVOC) that provided drivers with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely operate an ambulance in an emergency or non-emergency mode. I then went into the administrative side of the Corps and was elected to the executive board as Corresponding Secretary and then Treasurer. I hold a special place in my heart with the HVAC as it is part of my family history. My grandfather James ‘Mouse’ Finnerty was one of the first members of the Corps and past president. My father John ‘Jack’ Ginnity was a past member and held the office of president twice. My mother AnnaMarie Ginnity was also a member along with her sister Kathleen Burleson and brother Mark Eustice. Giving back to the community is a family tradition and I want to keep up with it.”

Volunteering with the Haverstraw Ambulance Corps can be a rewarding experience. If interested, access www.haverstrawems.org for an application or call (845) 947-5500.

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