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Reggie Wilson Making Mark As Fire, Ambulance Volunteer In North Salem

Reggie Wilson, who moved to the area six months ago, has been named the first African-American firefighter in North Salem.
Reggie Wilson, who moved to the area six months ago, has been named the first African-American firefighter in North Salem. Photo Credit: Reggie Wilson

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- Reggie Wilson moved to North Salem just six months ago, yet he is already an active volunteer with the Croton Falls Fire Department and a mainstay of the North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Wilson is highly qualified for both positions. He currently works for the New York City Department of Correction as an expert in fire and safety procedures. He not only conducts inspections of various DOC facilities but also trains younger officers. Furthermore, he spent several years as EMS chief in Mamaroneck.

He is a qualified EMT, an expert in interior firefighting and an experienced ambulance driver. In fact, one of Wilson's tasks for the NSVAC is teaching trainee drivers. "There's a lot of responsibility in driving an ambulance. It's not just fun and games. You have to be able to get from A to B properly. You mustn't disturb the patient and the paramedics need the vehicle to be stable as well. It's a real team effort."

Student Tomo Monte calls Wilson "a great mentor." Monte usually drives "a tiny Chevy," he says, "but an ambulance is like driving a big old box." Compared to a normal automobile, an ambulance is roughly a foot wider, six feet longer and three feet higher.

Wilson enjoys teaching. Early in his career, he worked as a drill instructor at the Rikers Island Boot Camp. "I didn't make it easy for them, but they seemed to like it." He found it particularly rewarding when he ran into inmates after their release and they greeted him warmly, introducing him to their friends and families.

NSVAC Capt. Maria Hlushko is grateful to have Reggie on board. The ideal number of volunteers would allow for at least two people (an EMT and a driver) to be on call 24/7, she explains. "That comes to 56 volunteers, minimum. Right now we're operating at less than one-quarter of that."

The NSVAC's annual Winter Gala, to be held at Brewster’s Starr Ridge Banquet Center, is coming up on Saturday, March 12. The evening starts at 6 p.m. with cocktails, followed by a buffet dinner, music and dancing. The celebration will be topped by a raffle and silent auction. Some tickets are still available.

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