Written by Joe Scotchie Wednesday, 18 September 2013 00:00
Last week, the nation gathered, once again, to commemorate the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
In Roslyn, honors were delivered months in advance. Last June, Roslyn Rescue Fire Company dedicated a new fire truck in memory of Tommy Langone, the deceased officer in the elite Emergency Service Unit of the New York City police
department. Langone and his late brother Peter, a member of the New York City Fire Department, were two of the many heroes of that day. Both also volunteered their time for Roslyn Rescue, carrying on a family tradition.
With Langone family members and friends present, Roslyn Rescue unveiled a hybrid unit truck, one that according to fire company officials is able to respond to EMS (emergency medical service), fire and rescue calls.
“This truck is symbolic of so much of what we all cherished about Tommy Langone,” said Capt. Jon Sendach, who was the master of ceremonies. “Tommy Langone always challenged us to think differently and change the ways we operate as the realities around us change.”
The truck is a tribute to Langone’s courage, but also to his insight and ingenuity. Langone, fire company officials recalled, begin to formulate his ideas in the early 1990s, as staffing levels at volunteer fire companies were becoming a challenge. As leader of the ambulance services in the Roslyn Fire District, he understood that firefighters were going to have to handle an increasing number of EMS runs. Fire departments, Sendach noted, generally divide their apparatus between trucks that carry water and hoses and those that carry portable ladders. In addition, Sendach said, Roslyn Rescue operates both ambulances and EMS responder cars that ferry paramedics to the scene of medical accidents.
The new truck, one inspired by Langone’s foresight, is, as noted, a hybrid of the two fire trucks. A fully equipped EMS responder unit, Sendach said its two seats will be occupied by the department’s most highly trained personnel and the cab space will include hydraulic rescue tools, motorized saws, chains, ropes and harnesses, medical equipment and self-contained breathing apparatus. There will always be a certified EMT (emergency medical technician) or paramedic as part of the two-person crew and both staff members will be fully qualified firefighters with other specialized training, the captain added.
“This is about a program, not just a vehicle,” said Chief Peter Liotta. “We are trying something different and if Tommy Langone were alive, trust me, he’s have this truck parked in his driveway some days,” he added, bringing some humor to the ceremony.
The June ceremony was not without its melancholy moments. Also being honored was Jane Stein, an East Hills resident and an admirer of Tommy Langone.
In the 1990s, Stein also served with Roslyn Rescue as an EMT. In addition, she was a longtime benefactor to the fire company. Stein, Sendach said, wanted to buy a new EMS vehicle for the department. She also wanted to honor the memory of Tommy Langone.
“Jane Stein looked up to Tommy and had so much respect for him,” Sendach recalled. “She said to us ‘he’s a visionary.’ Let’s do something different.”
That resulted not only in the purchase of a new truck, but also one that bore the inscription, “In Memory of New York City Police Officer Tommy Langone.”
Stein, Sendach recalled, wanted the new truck to be an EMS unit, one that could be used in the hybrid fashion that Langone envisioned.
“She wanted it to be as close as possible to the vehicle Tommy used at work everyday,” Sendach said. The fire company approved the proposal and the vehicle was ordered two weeks later.
“I remember the day I called Tommy’s wife JoAnn and her children Caitlin and Brian and told them that Jane was buying this truck in Tommy’s memory,” Sendach recalled. “There was just silence – how do you respond to that kind of generosity?”
But then, more tragedy struck. Three months after the truck was ordered, but before it was delivered, Jane Stein passed away unexpectedly.
According to Sendach, the passing of these two Roslyn Rescue greats made the ceremony especially meaningful for the firefighters, police officers, family and friends. Both of Langone’s children and Stein’s daughter, Frannie, christened the truck with the traditional bottles of champagne. The ceremony then ended with the entire crowd bowing their heads to honor two local visionaries, Tommy Langone and Jane Stein, whose work will continue to benefit future generations of local residents in their own times of peril.