Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps
Battles Coronavirus Pandemic
Antoine Robinson, 35, Commanding Officer of Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC) and heir to a legacy, appreciates the rounds of applause nightly at 7pm from New Yorkers who are saluting the first responders during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I can’t tell you how much this means to all of us who are riding the ambulance and answering the calls,” Robinson says.
But now he needs to ask the public for help.
“Although the numbers of new cases and the daily death counts in New York City are currently starting to trend downward, we have no vaccines yet or any proven treatments. Testing is still not widely available. As a result, this pandemic is far from over,“ Robinson cautions.
Robinson explains that after more than two decades as a Paramedic in New York City, and after more than 30 years as a BSVAC volunteer – including responding to 9/11 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti – he thought he had seen most medical emergencies, but “the COVID crisis is like nothing I have ever experienced.”
The pandemic disproportionately harms communities of color. BSVAC, established in 1988 by Antoine’s father Rocky Robinson, to respond to the crisis in emergency medical service that afflicts New York’s minority communities, serves a predominantly African-American community.
BSVAC has been particularly hard hit by the economic impact of the pandemic.
“The revenue we normally count on — from our in-person training programs, in-person EMT standby services at local events, and in-person neighborhood fundraising activities — has suddenly stopped because of the pandemic,” explains BSVAC Treasurer Tamsin Wolf, “while at the same time we have to spend more on gas, ambulance repairs and maintenance, medical supplies and utilities, in order to answer the sharply increased volume of emergency calls.”
The numbers are not sustainable. Robinson puts it simply:
“We need your help to be able to continue to fight this battle.”
To learn more about BSVAC and to make an online donation, please visit bsvac.org.