Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Eric Orgen, president of Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps (TVAC), was recognized by Congressman Josh Gottheimer on December 16 as one of New Jersey’s Fifth District Hometown Heroes in a special ceremony that took place at the Fair Lawn Community Center. Orgen was nominated by TVAC chief Yoni Celnik and former chief Izzy Infield, who described him as “embodying key characteristics including service dedication, innovation, and integrity.”

Gottheimer said: “We are so lucky to have so many unsung heroes in our communities here today, whose quiet power of service goes on without the recognition I believe they truly deserve. They do it just because they care. Today is their day—their time for some recognition.

“We are here to highlight those from across North Jersey who are hardwired to help others. We should focus on what unites us and less on what divides us, and those who give so much service to our country. Because when push comes to shove … people really do look out for one another in our communities.”

In introducing Orgen, Gottheimer said, “It’s no understatement to say that he has saved countless lives. … Eric is a dedicated leader in our community and has consistently been a top responder every year.”

“In fact, during his 28 years of service, Eric has taken a total of more than 3,000 calls. He was the top fundraiser for the TVAC first responder program fundraiser which raised nearly $100,000 to equip members with the critical resources they need to keep us safe. … At the start of the pandemic Eric was on a hiatus from TVAC but he came back to be there for his community, covering the gaps of the roster operating at half-capacity. He was truly instrumental in why TVAC did not need to call for mutual aid a single time during the pandemic.

“Eric, for all you’ve done, for your leadership, your complete commitment through some of our darkest days you are a true hometown hero.”

Accepting the award, Orgen said: “I’m extremely honored and humbled by this recognition. But the true recognition should go to my fellow TVAC members, whose tireless and unending devotion to their community leaves me in awe of their heroism that they demonstrate every single day. Every accomplishment has been a team effort. The residents of Teaneck should know each and every TVAC member is a hero—and we are here for you every single second of the day.”

Celnik and Infield’s letter nominating Orgen said, in part:

“With many years of service comes an array of experiences and lessons that Eric has passed on to all of his probationary members, but has also learned himself from others over the years. He has consistently been a top responder each year. While members typically only ride one weekly shift, Eric regularly rides multiple shifts per week, coming in about an hour early to relieve the overnight crew, and staying well past his shift time to help cover busy periods. … He serves his shifts as a highly esteemed crew chief, constantly going above and beyond what is required … to ensure that new members receive comprehensive and proper training to help grow our membership.

“Eric is highly skilled, ensuring every patient receives proper care, regardless of call acuity. When not on calls, Eric further dedicates his time to serving as president of the organization for the past two years. Essentially serving as the CEO of the organization, Eric has worked hand in hand with the board of trustees and the operational line officers. … Eric was the top fundraiser for the TVAC First Responder Program Fundraiser, which raised almost $100k to equip members with AEDs, oxygen and medical bags to enable first responders to aid patients quicker than ever before.

“Notably, Eric was one of very few people to actively ride from the very beginning of the pandemic in 2020 throughout the height and beyond. While everyone who rode during the pandemic went above and beyond the call of duty … Eric came in to ride to help cover the gaps in a roster operating at half-capacity, covering the multiple doubles, triples, quadruples, and even quintuples. Eric was instrumental in the reason why we did not go to mutual aid once during the pandemic—something that has a lasting impact on TVAC’s reputation to the township, its residents and other organizations, and will continue to define us as the strong organization we are.”

By Ronit Mershon

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