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Lieutenant Kirby McElhearn Medal

May 25, 1997, 0209 hours
51st Street and Queens Boulevard, Queens


EMT-D: Stephen T. Anderson



EMT-D: William Zaccari


Stephen T. Anderson was appointed to EMS on January 2, 1991. Assigned to EMS Battalion 49. He is the recipient of six pre-hospital save awards and two commendations. He resides in Patchogue, Long Island.

Stephen T. Anderson

William Zaccari was appointed to EMS on September 27, 1993. Assigned to EMS Battalion 49. He is the recipient of one pre-hospital save and two other commendations. He resides in Astoria, Queens.

William Zaccari

Within the melting pot of New York City, EMS personnel are confronted with various circumstances and environments that occasionally require independent action and initiative far exceeding their primary mission. This is exactly what occurred during the early-morning hours of May 25, 1997. It was routine, but busy, during the early Sunday morning hours in Queens. The usual Saturday night crowds were on their way home. The ambulance crew of unit A491, with EMT-D Stephen Anderson and EMT-D William Zaccari, were directed to respond to a call for a sick woman. The location of the call was in an apartment at 52nd Street and Skillman Avenue in Queens. Upon arrival, they entered the building and knocked on the apartment door, but there was no patient at the assigned location. They spoke to EMS dispatch, who advised them that the patient had left the scene. Knowing it was a busy night, EMTs Anderson and Zaccari made themselves available to handle the next emergency medical call. While outside their vehicle putting the equipment away, they were startled by the screams of a woman. They looked across the dark street and observed two men robbing and assaulting a woman. It was apparent she was struggling with the assailants. They immediately called for police assistance, giving the location of the assault and robbery. The EMTs then leaped into their vehicle and drove to the side of the street to assist the panic-stricken woman. The assailants, seeing the crew coming to the aid of the woman, fled the scene. Kneeling at the victim’s side, EMTs Anderson and Zaccari checked the woman for injuries. She was more startled than hurt and asked that they help in retrieving her valuables. The EMTs told the frightened woman that they had called the New York City Police Department and to wait where she was until they arrived. Without hesitation, the crew then returned to their ambulance and pursued the individuals with the hope of directing the NYPD to their location. When they turned the corner of Queens Boulevard and 51st Street, EMTs Anderson and Zaccari saw the two assailants running south on Queens Boulevard. The ambulance sped up to more closely monitor the direction of escape. Seeing the ambulance with its lights and siren on startled the assailants and they began to flee in earnest. The EMTs, realizing that they might lose the assailants, jumped from the ambulance and quickly began to follow them on foot. Seizing the opportunity, they sprung into action, tackling the robbers and holding them until the arrival of the NYPD. EMT-D Stephen Anderson and EMT-D William Zaccari took significant personal risk in pursuing and apprehending not one--but two--suspects. At the time of the incident, neither of these EMS members knew if the assailants were armed. After the episode, it was learned that both suspects had criminal records and warrants were out for their arrest. For their act of selflessness, individual initiative and bravery, they are awarded the Lieutenant Kirby McElhearn Medal for 1997.--EG

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