Slain FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo devoted herself to volunteer agency for 30 years
“It’s hard to imagine the squad without her,” said Huntington Community First Aid Squad Chief David Kaufman
Following her death, the FDNY posthumously promoted Lt. Alison Russo to captain. Read more about the incident in this response from Lexipol Editorial Director Greg Friese, MS, NRP.
Emma Seiwell, John Annese
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — Slain FDNY Lt. Alison Russo’s dedication to saving lives didn’t stop when she took off her EMS uniform — for three decades she gave her time during off-work hours with her local Long Island volunteer ambulance crew.
She joined the Huntington Community First Aid Squad in November 1992, starting as an EMT before obtaining her critical care and paramedic certifications.
Now her colleagues there are reeling from her senseless stabbing death in Queens.
“It’s hard to imagine the squad without her,” David Kaufman, 32, the volunteer squad’s chief, told the Daily News. “It’s a really tough loss for us.”
For 13 of her years with the volunteer squad, Russo served as duty captain.
“A lot of the things we deal with are very serious patients in accidents, and very sick or even in cardiac arrest.,” Kaufman said. “I would ride with her and work with her.”
“She served as a mentor to a lot of people and always enjoyed teaching others,” he added. “Just a really great person who loved giving back to the community.”
Kaufman struggled to find the words to describe learning of the stabbing that took his colleague’s life.
“I wouldn’t want to see that happen to anyone,” he said. “It’s just tragic. Shocking.”
The 61-year-old lieutenant was walking from her EMS facility at Station 49 in Astoria to a nearby deli when stranger Peter Zisopoulos, 34, allegedly stabbed her 20 times in a horrific unprovoked attack.
Zisopoulos was arrested for murder and weapon possession after barricading himself in his nearby apartment. He remains hospitalized as he awaits arraignment in Queens Criminal Court.
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A 24-year veteran of the FDNY, Russo got her start in March 1998 as an emergency medical technician, and responded to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, just three years into her career.
She was promoted to FDNY paramedic in 2002 and to lieutenant in 2016. As she rose through the ranks she remained devoted to her local Huntington Community First Aid Squad.
“What’s really impressive to me is that she stayed a volunteer and kept giving back to the community,” Kaufman said. “Anyone who is lower than her, she’d be happy to share with them what she was doing or to advise us and give us a hand in areas we weren’t as strong in.”
She was set to retire from the FDNY in the next six months and hoped to spend her golden years with her grandchildren.
“We just want to make sure we do everything we can to honor her,” Kaufman said.
A wake for Russo is set for Monday and Tuesday at the Commack Abbey Funeral Home on Long Island, with her funeral to follow a day later at the Tilles Center for Performing Arts in Brookville, L.I.
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