ANTOINE ROBINSON is following in his late father’s footsteps, in circumstances his father couldn’t have imagined. The son of Giraffe Hero Rocky Robinson, he’s a paramedic with the New York City Fire Department. On his own time, he leads a volunteer ambulance corps in Brooklyn that’s dealing with its usual workload plus the COVID crisis.
That group of volunteer first responders is the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps—BSVAC, founded by his dad. Since Brooklyn is one of the hardest hit communities in the hardest hit U.S. city, Robinson is in ambulances day and night, sleeping only a few hours out of every 24.
Robinson and the other BSVAC volunteers are constantly short of masks and other protective gear. With the increased emergency calls, they’re spending more than ever on gas, repairs, medical supplies, and utilities. BSVAC’s treasurer says, “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.”
COVID has stretched the service to its limits. “We’re out here fighting every day,” says Robinson. “Day to day it is a lot busier. A lot of people are nervous and scared and calling 911 even though they don’t have an emergency.” And, “We still have to handle the regular calls— people hit by cars, car accidents.”
Robinson and his fellow volunteers will keep putting their lives on the line every day and night. “Every life that we save is just one extra life, one extra family that you can help,” says this son of a Giraffe. “It’s what’s embedded in us. It’s what’s instilled in us.”