On Saturday, March 25, 2017, ten Eastchester EMS members, along with several other agencies from Westchester County and throughout the Northeast United States, joined together under overcast skies on University Avenue to mourn the loss of a fellow EMT, Yadira "Yari" Arroyo. EMT Arroyo was a 14 year veteran of the FDNY EMS who was tragically taken far too soon on the evening of Thursday, March 16, 2017 while on duty with her partner out of Station 26 of the FDNY. They were responding to someone in need of help when an unauthorized person stole their ambulance and fatally struck EMT Arroyo.
EVAC members began the morning at 0615 hrs prepping 57-B1, the newest of the fleet- a 2013 F-350 Lifeline Ambulance, to ensure the ambulance was in superb shape, both inside and out, in order to show their respects to EMT Arroyo and her fellow members of the FDNY. The members then traveled to Yonkers Raceway to meet with members from Empress EMS, Tarrytown Fire Department, Westchester EMS, Yorktown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Katonah Bedford Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Mt. Kisco Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The convoy of vehicles then departed from Yonkers Raceway around 0815hrs en-route to University Avenue and West 181st Street in the Bronx where the funeral procession for EMT Arroyo would take place.
The scene along University Ave was somber. Departments from as far away as Pittsburgh, PA, Philadelphia, PA, and Boston, MA, to as close as EMS units from hospitals in Manhattan and EMS agencies from across the river in Jersey lined the route. Not only were members of EMS present, but there were also firefighters and police officers from many agencies there to pay their respects, too. The organization by the FDNY was nothing short of magnificent to send off their fallen colleague. The funeral procession processed up University Avenue at approximately 1130 hrs from W 174th St to St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church where the services took place. During this time, the precision and the respect shown by all was a scene that was truly indescribable and will never be forgotten.
While services were occurring inside the church, there was what felt like a reunion occurring alongside University Avenue. Friends who hadn't seen each other in many years who had known of each other in respective departments struck up conversations with each other, showing that the world of Emergency Services, while it can seem immense and deep, is, in fact, so small and close knit like a family. A family that will always remain behind one another, regardless of the patch on the sleeve, the color of the uniform, or the activity of the job description. This was the moment that served to show that in times of darkness and tragedy, there will still be such strong rays of light, much like the personality of EMT Arroyo.
Throughout the Mass of Christian Burial the theme was that not only was she a biological mother of 5 boys, varying in age from 24 yrs old to 7 yrs of age, she was a mother to her fellow EMTs and medics in Station 26. She provided those members both old and new with the guidance any mother would give to their own praising when appropriate and providing corrective action when needed as well. Additionally EMT Arroyo had a lasting effect on all of those she came across proven by the many patients who came to pay their respects to her family after hearing of her tragic loss.
The funeral service concluded around 1400hrs where EMT Arroyo then took her final journey on this earth back down University Avenue past the seemingly endless line of members paying their respects en route to St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx.
**Photo Credit Michael Tomechko**