Former partner of slain FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo reflects on her love of EMS
“She knew how to do her job, and she knew how to do your job too,” said Michael Greco, now vice president of EMS Local 2507
Emma Seiwell, Larry McShane
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — FDNY EMS veteran Alison Russo, with her quick wit, cool head and familiar laugh, was the one her co-workers turned to in difficult times.
Now her bereft colleagues, family and friends face a sad future without the revered Russo as they brace for a farewell to the 24-year-veteran killed by a deranged man just a short walk from EMS Station 49 in Queens.
“She saw the joke in everything,” said her former partner Michael Greco. “She had that personality that would take tragedy and turn it into laughter. She had the personality that would take sadness and rationalize it in a way that helped deal with the pain.”
Greco, now vice president of EMS Local 2507, recalled their introduction back in 2008. Russo was a role model for younger colleagues like him, and they quickly became friends for the rest of her life.
“She knew how to do her job, and she knew how to do your job too,” said the 44-year-old veteran. “That’s Alison. She was respected ... She was able to take and elevate everybody else.”
Russo, 61 and just just six months short of retirement, was slain last Thursday afternoon while heading out to grab lunch. Accused killer Peter Zisopoulos was arrested a short time later at his nearby apartment and remained hospitalized pending a court appearance.
It remained unclear Saturday exactly when that would happen.
Greco recalled how important it was for Russo to retire and spend more time with her daughter and grandchild, but only after hitting the quarter-century mark on the job.
“You want to make it to 25 years, you want to serve the city,” he said. “And she didn’t owe anybody anything else. As a matter of fact, the city probably owed her.”
He had few words for the man accused of killing his old partner.
“You can’t print what I want to say to him,” he declared. “You took more than you could ever know.”
A wake for Russo was set for this coming 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. Her colleagues gathered Friday beneath mourning bunting hung outside their Astoria station in Russo’s honor.
“She wore her heart on her sleeve, would give you the shirt off her back and she was there for me when I was at my most vulnerable,” said FDNY Deputy Chief Gregg Brady, another former partner of Russo, as co-workers mourned their loss.
“She spent each day trying to be there for the men and women that are standing behind me, to make sure that they went home safely.”
Greco said the two forged their friendship on the job, sitting together in an ambulance for about a year. They eventually shared a station from 2008-16, with the younger worker learning on every shift he worked alongside Russo — who was among the first responders to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“She lit up a room and she lit up your face when you saw her,” he recalled. “There was a smile that was always on her face. There is a bright light in the world that was extinguished and it will be felt by all of her friends and all of our co-workers that know her well. That light’s gone.”
The days since her death were a struggle for Greco, who recalled sharing fishing trips along the North Shore of Long Island and a few cocktails with his old partner over the years.
“It comes in waves,” Greco said of his emotions. “When you first hear the news, when you first get to the hospital, you’re doing alright ... But then you catch eyes with someone, and just in a look you get all flooded with memories of that friend, and you lose it.”
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