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Shelter Island Fire Department and Emergency Medical services honor Phil Power

The awards keep coming for Phil Power, a man who has given 50 years of service to the Shelter Island Fire Department and 45 to the Island’s Emergency Medical Services.

This year, he was named EMT of the Year at an Oct. 6 dinner at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club, an honor he has received twice. The first time was 15 years ago.

He also received a Retirement Plaque for his 50 years of service to the Fire Department, but he wants everyone to know that while he’s retiring as an EMT, he plans to continue to serve in the Fire Department. In 1999, he was named Firefighter of the Year. He also served as a Fire Commissioner.

In 2019, he was named the Shelter Island Reporter’s Person of the Year for his dedicated service to his community.

A year ago, he notified Town officials his plans to retire from the Emergency Medical Services, where he has been the last member qualified to render Advanced Life Support aid. To meet the need — so vital on the Island given the aging community — the Town plans to allocate up to $132,000 to pay for qualified ALS personnel whose training is more extensive that what EMTs typically are required to receive.

Mr. Power and his wife, Phyllis, recalled the many times through the years when they were entertaining friends at dinner when a call came in requiring that Mr. Power leave to attend to a medical emergency. He looks back on his years of service that he said were filled with moments of joy, but also moments of sadness. The joyous times were when he was able to deliver a baby and, of course, the sad moments were when he responded to a call that resulted in a death.

Through the past 19 months, as with his EMS colleagues, he’s had to respond during the COVID pandemic.

“You try not to think about it,” Mr. Power said. But the need to mask up and put on gowns and goggles on calls has been an ever-present factor for EMTs.

He recalled one of the more unusual and bizarre calls that came in for EMS to respond when he and wife had just returned from a trip to Massachusetts and were eating at a local restaurant. He and fellow EMT Gary Gross responded and found an unconscious adult male. The house was filled with garbage and animal feces.

In the bedroom, a man he guessed was about 280 pounds was lying on a four-poster bed with what he thought was a ceramic animal. As he and his fellow EMT worked, a monkey jumped off the bed and began to bite them. A sheep dog with badly matted fur came into the room while the EMTs were doing CPR.

As they were putting the man into an ambulance, they found a goat inside. The first responders had to wrestle the animal out of the ambulance before they could lift the stretcher aboard for the trip to a hospital.

Now, at 72, Mr. Power looks forward to an end to such encounters, and having time to play more golf and do more fishing. He also provides handyman services in the community for a few regular customers. He will also have more time to visit his children and their families, with one daughter living in Connecticut and another in North Carolina.

The year he was named Shelter Island Reporter Person of the Year, former Councilman Ed Brown said of Mr. Power: “There are givers and takers in this world and Phil Power is and has been for many decades a big-time giver for this community. He stops what he is doing to help others.”