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Gala dinner at Pridwin honors all EMS volunteers

MARY ELLEN McGAYHEY PHOTOS Shelter Island Emergency Medical Services C0-Lieutenant Cathy Rasmussen was named EMT of the Year at the annual awards dinner Thursday event held at The Pridwin.
MARY ELLEN McGAYHEY PHOTOS Shelter Island Emergency Medical Services C0-Lieutenant Cathy Rasmussen was named EMT of the Year at the annual awards dinner June 7 held at The Pridwin.

“I had no idea,” said Cathy Rasmussen, co-lieutenant of the Shelter Island Emergency Medical Services (EMS), on being awarded EMT of the Year for 2017 by her fellow volunteers.

The honor was bestowed on the evening of June 7 at the annual cocktail reception and dinner for all volunteers  at The Pridwin. The gala event brought together friends, family and Shelter Island town officials to honor those who interrupt their lives at a moment’s notice to serve those who often are suffering through some of the most serious times of their lives.

Also honored was Captain Judy Sherman, who was recognized for her “years of dedication and hard work.” Ms. Sherman joined the agency in 1977. Chairman of the EMS Advisory Board Peter McCracken, Advisory Board member Marian Brownlie and Jim Preston, chairman of the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation, were all recognized for their work throughout the year.

After the dinner, EMS Director Jack Thilberg said Ms. Rasmussen was named EMT of 2017 “not for a single event, but for her overall excellent performance within the agency.” On the “front line responding to medical emergencies within our community, she’s also instrumental in many behind-the-scene activities to ensure we are ready. Cathy responds well beyond the minimum number of calls and truly is an asset to our agency.”

Ms. Rasmussen said she was motivated to help others not just physically in times of severe stress, but to reassure those she’s serving that they are in good hands, “to make them feel better and to put smiles on their faces.”

For a young woman, serving others in emergency situations has been a good part of her life. Raised in Shirley before moving to Shelter Island, “I grew up around fire houses and ambulance barns,” she said, following the lead of her older brothers who were firefighters and EMS volunteers. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to help people.”

In high school here, she volunteered and “helped out in the back of ambulances,” she said. She took a leave of absence to start her family with Dan Rasmussen, an ex-chief of the Shelter Island Fire Department, that now includes Danielle, 9, and Joseph, 7.

Asked if they were a handful, Ms. Rasmussen noted with a laugh that two children 23 months apart “keep us on our toes.”

In addition to serving as an EMT, she’s a school crossing guard, a detention attendant for the police department and works at Bob’s Fish Market. “Busy, busy, busy,” she said.

There are a number of women volunteers in the ambulance squad. When asked what she would tell other women who are thinking of volunteering, she said, with a laugh, “This is not a man’s world,” and everyone, regardless of gender, who wants to serve should consider joining.

“Do what you can do,” the EMT of the Year said.