FDNY members celebrate life of fallen EMS Capt. Alison Russo
“That man murdered my daughter, and she would be the first one to come to his aid if he needed help,” her father said at the service
UPDATE: Oct. 5, 2:27 p.m. CDT
Thomas Tracy, Larry McShane
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — A beloved veteran FDNY paramedic, killed in a horrific Queens stabbing, was remembered as a selfless hero Wednesday at a heart-rending memorial service where her brother called for action to spare her colleagues from similar tragedies.
The U.S.-flag draped casket holding Lt. Alison Russo, 61, a 9/11 first responder and 24-year veteran paramedic, arrived at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville, L.I., on a blustery fall morning before sibling Craig Fuoco delivered a eulogy expressing hope that her death can focus attention on the risks of her life’s work.
“It still feels unreal that we lost our Alison to this random, senseless act of violence,” said a teary Craig Fuoco. “Alison didn’t deserve this. No one does. My hope is that our family’s tragedy will bring attention to problems facing first responders.
“Changes to promote community safety need to be prioritized for both the people who need help as well as for the first responders who selflessly respond to those in need.”
Russo’s colleagues from FDNY EMS Station 49 lined up five-deep at the entrance where her casket was delivered in an FDNY ambulance with its lights flashing, escorted by an honor guard of co-workers.
Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” as her body was brought inside, where Russo was repeatedly described as a selfless co-worker and friend.
“She lived a truly remarkable life,” said Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, who attended along with Mayor Adams. “Our city and EMS are better for for having her in it ... Alison was tough, fearless. Many, many things defined Alison ... She was a rock.”
In a heartbreaking moment, her father Frank recounted stumbling upon a black-and-white security camera video of his daughter’s killing on the internet.
“He left her dying there on the street like a rag doll that was just discarded,” he said to a hushed crowd. “Alison was our hero, my wife and I ... She was such a beautiful person. He killed her, and tore a hole in our hearts.
“That man murdered our daughter, and she would have been the first one to come to his aid if he ever needed help.”
A final goodbye to @FDNY EMS LT. #AlisonRusso @TillesCenter - she will be posthumously promoted to Captain during funeral services on Long Island - after she was stabbed to death while on duty last week @NY1 #FDNY pic.twitter.com/U1MFhFX49F— Roger Clark (@RogerClark41) October 5, 2022
Chief of FDNY EMS Lillian Bonsignore, in her eulogy, noted her department answers 1.5 million calls each year and called for additional support for EMS members citywide.
“We answer those calls because we care,” she said. “We need the people in the city, state and country to choose us and stand up for those who risk their lives for you ... Captain Russo was unstoppable and driven to be the very best. And she was tough.
“Thousands of times in her career her siren rang out ... The best was on its way.”
The mourners included members of the Huntingon Community First Aid Squad, where Russo was a co-worker for three decades.
An FDNY firefighter is serenading Alison Russo’s funeral with Billy Joel’s “She’s got a way” and will follow up with “Lullaby (Goodnight my Angel).” pic.twitter.com/c9nvgYbFtw— John Asbury (@johnasbury) October 5, 2022
The “Celebration of Life” included songs from two of Russo’s favorite musicians, Long Islander Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. Russo, a mother and a grandmother, also received a posthumous promotion to captain during the service where her turnout helmet rested on a table below her photo.
The helmet was presented to her mother when the service ended following a few final words from her daughter Danielle.
“Any hate in your heart, I need you to replace it with love,” she said, struggling to keep her composure in addressing the crowd. “Do not let your thoughts be clouded by this act of sudden trauma. You need to replace it with honoring my mother for the hero that she is.”
According to cops and eyewitnesses, the attacker randomly targeted Russo on a corner just a short walk from FDNY EMS Station 49 in Astoria. Colleagues said she was six months away from retirement when killed.
Murder suspect Peter Zisopoulis, 34, was set for a Thursday arraignment from Bellevue Hospital, where he was undergoing psychiatric evaluations.
©2022 New York Daily News
By Leila Merrill
NEW YORK CITY — Members of the FDNY as well as family and friends of EMS Capt. Alison Russo gathered Wednesday for her celebration of life at the Tilles Center in Brookville, Long Island.
The FDNY also live-streamed the service.
We are honored to serve our brothers and sisters from the FDNY breakfast as they stand in the rain to say goodbye to hero FDNY Lt. Alison Russo. May she rest in peace. @FDNY @UFANYC pic.twitter.com/Eeg4uz6izN— SUFFOLK COUNTY PBA (@SuffolkPBA) October 5, 2022
According to reporter John Asbury, Russo’s father spoke to the crowd of mourners and said he watched surveillance video of her fatal stabbing.
“That man murdered my daughter, and she would be the first one to come to his aid if he needed help," he said.
Today, members of #BEMS, including the honor guard, are attending the services for @FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo. Alongside hundreds of EMTs, Paramedics, police officers and firefighters from around the country, we mourn the loss of Lt. Russo. pic.twitter.com/9DHJsWXwKz— Boston EMS (@BOSTON_EMS) October 5, 2022
Editor's note: The Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) shared a fact sheet about violence against fire-based EMS responders.