Taylor K. Vecsey is a captain in the Bridgehampton Fire Department’s emergency medical service company who first joined the department in 2010. Last week, she received two prestigious honors from the Southampton Town EMS Advisory Committee: the Nancy Makson EMS Award of Excellence and the Ralph Oswald Distinction for Inspirational Leadership. On behalf of the Southampton Town Board, councilman Tommy John Schiavoni also presented Ms. Vecsey with a proclamation recognizing her work.
How does it feel to have received these honors?
It’s truly an honor to receive both the Nancy Makson and Ralph Oswald awards, particularly because they are awards named after people who gave so much to their respective communities. The Nancy Makson award, which has been around for nine years, was actually given to someone who was a mentor to me. She was given it posthumously, and was also nominated for it once when she was alive, so it was particularly meaningful to receive the same award she did. It was also special to be recognized by the Southampton Town Board.
Who or what first inspired you to volunteer with the Bridgehampton Fire Department? Do you have a mentor who helped you along the way?
I was first inspired by my husband, Nick, who has been a member for 20 years, going on 21, and he had just become an EMT. I saw his dedication to the department change over the years. He got more involved. So I was inspired by that, joining the fire police first, and then I realized there was an area where I could be more helpful. My mentor was Terry Hoyt, who passed away in 2016. She was somebody who motivated me during my EMT class and showed me the ropes once I became an EMT along with my husband. She was very dedicated to the department. I actually moved away from the Bridgehampton area the year she died. It would have been easier if I had switched departments or taken less of a role at the time — it would have made sense. But Terry had just died and I certainly wanted to serve and do the best job I could in her honor. I have also received amazing support along the way. Stacy Ludlow, also a former captain, encouraged me to lead in the first place, and I never had really considered it before. My assistant captain Elizabeth Kotz helps me tremendously, too. Other longtime members like Robin Murphy, John White, ex-chief Jeff White, Harry Halsey, Jack Zito, Carol Kalish, Dave Skretch — that’s just to name a few, but these are all people I admire for their many years of hard work and dedication, and most of them were with me the night of the awards, which made it all the more sweet. Through my work as a journalist, I’ve written plenty about EMS and fire volunteers. After a somewhat difficult story, it was Eddie Downes from Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps who challenged me to volunteer. That was a pivotal moment for me and I will always be thankful to him.
What do you like about the work you do? What do you find challenging?
Being an EMT or being a captain are two different animals. I enjoy being an EMT more because you’re out in the community, you’re helping people. You’re usually seeing somebody on their worst day and you could be helping them or helping their family members. That part is truly rewarding because you truly feel like you’re making a difference. Being a captain is a lot of administrative work. I do like the organizational aspect of it. I enjoy trying to bring us all together.
I understand that a lot of local fire and ambulance companies are seeking volunteers. What would you say to someone who might be thinking about joining?
I would ask them not to be afraid. I think that some people right away would say, ‘I’m not good at blood’ or ‘I could never do what you do because it seems strenuous and scary.’ But really reach down deep within yourself because I bet you could do it, and there are different aspects you could provide to your community.