November 12, 2001
American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300, crashed into the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens, a borough of New York City, shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport. All 260 people on board were killed, as well as 5 others on the ground. The National Transportation Safety Board attributed the disaster to the first officer’s overuse of rudder controls in response to wake turbulence. The volunteers of the Central Park Medical Unit who so recently responded to tragedy at the World Trade Center, were on the scene again, this time in Queens.
While there were no survivors from the aircraft, several people who lived near the impact area required immediate medical attention. One, a 21-year-old neighborhood woman, was suffering from smoke inhalation when the CPMU volunteers arrived from Manhattan.
The patient, who required life-saving artificial ventilation was resuscitated by EMTs John Arbo and Frank Schorn of the CPMU while being driven to Peninsula Hospital in their ambulance by colleague EMT Rafael Castellanos under NYPD Highway Patrol motorcycle escort.
The CPMU volunteers also transported another victim, a 16-year-old girl suffering from an acute asthma attack, to Peninsula Hospital.
Afterwards, CPMU volunteers returned to the site to offer first aid to the rescue workers and residents of the area.
“We go wherever and whenever we are needed and sometimes that takes us pretty far beyond the walls of Central Park,” said Castellanos, the president of the Central Park Medical Unit. “We’ve been doing this for more than twenty five years, but the past ten weeks have been unbelievable. We’re proud to have been able to help, but we’re exhausted.”