Whether it's saving someone's life or rebuilding after Sandy, newly promoted FDNY paramedic Lt. David Kruysman of South Wantagh has never faced a challenge he could not surmount, despite a prosthetic leg that could have kept him out of the department.
Kruysman, 43, who was one of 15 EMS firefighters promoted to lieutenant Wednesday at Randall's Island, said a mentor during his training kept him focused and "pushed to get me out on the job. He just kept telling me to keep going and not stop."
Kruysman, who was born with a deformed leg, is the only FDNY firefighter using a prosthetic. His wife said her husband's drive to accomplish his goals will "open doors for a lot of people."
"There's nothing David cannot do," Amy Kruysman, an operating-room nurse at Syosset Hospital, said, calling her husband an "extraordinary man."
They have been married for 13 years and have two children, Aidan, 9, and Zoey, 4.
When the Kruysman family returned to their home after evacuating during superstorm Sandy, they found a decimated ground floor. Amy Kruysman said her husband immediately went to work.
"David did the demolition work," she said, and 83 days later the family was living in a "rebuilt" home.
Kruysman was born prematurely, resulting in a left leg that did not fully develop below the knee.
His father, Will Kruysman, 81, said his son "was never handicapped" by the condition.
"He was going to do what all the other kids were doing. He really pushed himself, and there was nothing that was going to stop him. He always wanted to be a fireman. He volunteered when he was growing up in Garden City. He just loved it. He's a good kid, and I'm glad he's my kid."
Being in the FDNY "was something I always wanted to do," said David Kruysman, who holds the highest rank in EMT training as a rescue paramedic.
Kruysman, now at Station 39 in East New York, which runs ambulance calls in one of Brooklyn's busiest posts, said he is being transferred.
"I don't know where I will be working. I'll have to wait and see where the department needs me," said Kruysman, a graduate of Nassau Community College.
During the ceremony, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said all the newly promoted lieutenants are "dedicated men and women who have chosen a tough career."