For Frank Milza, it is not about the glory.
One year, he recalls, five emergency calls came in—some simultaneously—for his company, the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance, between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.
“You get home at 6 or 7 in the morning, and you go to sleep instead of spending time with your family,” said the EMT and winner of the third annual Nancy Makson EMS Award of Excellence in a telephone interview on Monday.
Sometimes, the 23-year-old North Sea native must respond to gruesome car crashes, like the double-fatality on the village’s border with the Shinnecock Indian Reservation last spring. He had attended school with the victims—also not an unusual occurrence.
But someone has to do it. And one of those to step up is Mr. Milza, a 2008 graduate of Southampton High School.
Many people do not realize that the local EMTs are volunteers, he observed.
“I think it’s amazing to live in a community where 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, people drop what they’re doing because someone needs help,” he said.
Mr. Milza was feted on Friday night by the Southampton Town EMS Advisory Committee as its “Volunteer of the Year” for 2012 at an awards banquet held at Seasons of Southampton in Southampton Village. He seized the overall honor over seven other EMTs who were nominated by their respective departments throughout the town.
Mr. Milza is the first Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance EMT to earn the distinction, named in memory of an instrumental figure in the Flanders-Northampton Volunteer Ambulance. He bested the following ambulance company volunteers to win the overall honor: Eric Rosante (East Quogue), Jon Lorenz (Flanders-Northampton), Dave Smith (Hampton Bays), Albert J. Labrozzi (Sag Harbor), Alfred Callahan (Southampton), Dave Skretch (Bridgehampton) and Barbara Mitchell (Westhampton War Memorial).
Mr. Milza, a full-time registration clerk at Southampton Hospital, also volunteers with the Southampton Fire Department. He joined the SVVA in 2009 as an EMT and has also volunteered with Southampton Volunteer Ambulance.
Despite his full plate, he still responded to 114 calls last year, ranking him fifth in the outfit, according to SVVA Chief Mark Klinger.
Mr. Milza also enrolled in an EMT-Critical Care class, a more advanced class that trains EMTs to administer certain medications and intravenous fluids, and teaches them advanced airway techniques.
“Most significantly, what really made him stand out last year is the fact that our agency identified the common problem within the community, which was lack of CPR and first-aid training,” Chief Klinger said.
The SVVA last summer started offering cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator certification classes at its Meeting House Lane headquarters at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month. Volunteers have also been spreading basic CPR awareness at Southampton intermediate and high schools, with plans later this month to do the same at Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School.
“He’s been leading that program since before its inception in June, and through his leadership and coordination, we’ve trained approximately 600 individuals how to potentially save a life,” Chief Klinger said.
Mr. Milza, he added, represents somewhat of a “dying breed” on the East End. “It’s difficult to find truly dedicated volunteers, and Frank demonstrates the enthusiasm and is a prime example of a well-rounded volunteer,” the chief said, adding that the award also reflects the dedication of the entire corps.
Violetta Zamorski, the EMS Advisory Committee chairwoman, described Mr. Milza as “very enthusiastic, with a high level of dedication.”
Mr. Milza spoke modestly of his accolade this week.
“I couldn’t have done it without the fantastic work of the village ambulance,” he said. “I really couldn’t have done it without these people.”
For Mr. Milza, who has goals of broadening the CPR initiative in the village and returning to school, possibly to study medicine, joining the ambulance corps provided direction.
One lifesaving bit of advice he said he would share with the average layperson is to learn CPR. “People think it’s very complicated and, you know, the truth is that many cardiac arrests occur at home,” he said. “It’s most likely going to be family members and loved ones.”
Those interested in volunteering as an EMT, ambulance driver or helper may do so through the websites of the local EMS agencies or through 877-we2-wantu, or www.suffolksbravest.com.