The Hudson Valley Paramedic Association will be holding its first 9-1-1 Chili Cook-Off and Music Fest this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Nanuet High School.
This daylong event is being held to give local families a great day of food, fun and music, as well as raise funds for and awareness about paramedics.
When we think of a medical emergency, our mind tends to go right to the hospital and the white coat-wearing doctors. We rarely let ourselves think about the men and women who get to us first, in the precious moments between our homes and the hospital, the paramedics. The first responders do everything they can to save our lives. We often overlook this noble profession.
In addition to being noble, being a paramedic can become very costly. Local certification programs cost between $600 and $10,000.
In an effort to help aspiring paramedics, local men and women who already had these jobs, decided to create a scholarship fund, raise awareness of the profession as a whole, and lobby Albany to change the status from “certified” paramedics to “licensed.” This would bring parity with both nurses and physicians.
Walter Dusseldorp, along with other paramedics discussed this idea in the spring of 2011.
“We decided it was time to set up an association that would represent all paramedics of the seven counties in the Hudson Valley,” Dusseldorp said.
The Hudson Valley Paramedic Association, or HPVA, was established, and includes paramedics from Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Duchess, Ulster, Westchester and Putnam.
Dusseldorp has been a paramedic since 1993, primarily working in Clarkstown.
“I have served our community with great pleasure and it certainly has given me much professional satisfaction when making a difference in somebody’s time of need. We absolutely love what we do, giving many the chance to live another day,” Dusseldorp said.
Dusseldorp hopes that through the efforts of the HPVA, the community will look at paramedicine as a life profession, not just a pass through job.
Over the past few years, the HPVA has gained over 100 members and 200 associate members.
Most paramedics in the Hudson Valley will receive their certificates through community colleges in the area, and graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Allied Health which includes more than 1250 hours of practical experiences in hospitals, critical care, pediatrics, cardiac, transport and “911” response.
The HPVA hopes to provide funds that soften the blow of these costs.
The inspiration to start a scholarship fund came from Dr. Michael S. Lippe, who was the medical director of the emergency department at Good Samaritan Hospital, before he passed away two years ago.
“Dr. Lippe had been a steadfast supporter of local paramedics and EMS,” Dusseldorp said. “He would award an annual full scholarship to a well deserving and talented EMT who made a convincing case to be sent to Paramedic School.”
So, the HPVA decided to establish Paramedic Scholarships in memory of fallen heroes including Nancy Bergquist, Rich Quigley, Tom Fantry, John "COB" McDonagh and Dr. Michael Lippe.
“Together we decided to take on the challenge to organize a large event that would support our efforts and goals annually,” Dusseldorp said.
While they wanted to have a big celebration and fundraiser, the HPVA did not yet know what to fill the day with.
A friend of the late Dr. Lippe, Matt Levy, who is an avid chili chef and well known within the International Chili Association, put the idea of a chili cook-off on the HPVA’s radar.
“He told us that there was no east coast chili cook-off. So he said, why don’t you bring us over and have an international cook-off sanctioned event, so whoever wins gets to compete nationally,” said Jordana Lippe, daughter of Dr. Michael Lippe, and one of the main organizers of the event. “And who doesn’t love chili?”
So the HPVA lobbied the International Chili Association to allow the event to be an accredited site for competition towards their World Championship event that will take place later this year in Tampa Bay, Florida.
They succeeded, getting more than 20 chefs to participate in making chili and red and green salsa.
Yet, the event still needed a little something to spice it up, in addition to the cook-off.
“To make sure that we make it an all around family affair, we included a music festival and street fair so that the attendees will have plenty of things to see, listen and taste,” Dusseldorp said.
Five bands from around the tri-state area have donated their time to play at the event, as well as local venders.
There will be clowns, face painting, sand art, helicopters coming in, an EMS presentation of new equipment, and competitions among paramedics.
“We just really wanted to make a fun family day and thought its it’s summer time, who doesn’t want to listen to music, eat food and learn about some great people in our community,” Lippe said.
Lippe and the HPVA are hoping for a huge turnout on Saturday. The team has been organizing the event for over a year and has worked with with local merchants, community members, and political leaders like Rockland County Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell and Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack to ensure a great time had by all.
“We plan to make this an annual occasion. Every year it’ll be better and better, getting bigger bands, and more chili chefs,” Lippe said. “We hope everyone has a great time and that they’ll come back next year.”
In addition from to a fun day, the HPVA hopes that the attendees will walk away with a sense of what it means to be a paramedic, and how important they are.
“I think we often forget about the first responders and the role they play in our daily lives. Its important to help those who help us,” Lippe said.
For more information, or to make a donation in support of Paramedics, visit www.myhvpa.org.