Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Birkus-Viktor

Recently, I challenged myself to become an emergency medical technician in the Syosset Fire Department.

Firefighters and EMTs are male and female and come in many ages, sizes and races. Most are volunteers and have an insatiable resolve to help others.

To become an EMT, one must complete a 132-hour course over six months, read and study a 1,511-page book, take 15.5 hours of online courses and visit a hospital for 10 hours. Then a candidate must pass a New York State licensing exam. As a thank you, many communities offer a discount on local taxes, but I haven’t heard of anyone making these sacrifices to save a few dollars.

Most firefighters and EMT volunteers also work full time. I am a full-time dentist and teach voluntarily once a week at a local hospital, so this undertaking is not easy.

It has been my custom to say thank you to veterans and soldiers for their service, but I now thank firefighters and EMTs in a similar way.

Please take time this Labor Day and every day to do the same — or better yet, volunteer to help others and save lives as a firefighter or EMT.

Dr. Marc Herman,



Require hospitals to offer plant-based foods

New York recently passed legislation requiring hospitals to offer healthful plant-based meals that could help fight heart disease — a disease accounting for nearly 40 percent of all deaths statewide. As founder and director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Health System, I’ve seen the power of a plant-based prescription firsthand.

A patient came in who was morbidly obese and on 19 medications for conditions including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We recommended a plant-based diet, which helps fight heart disease. In 18 months, the patient lost 75 pounds and dropped to three medications.

The transformation took place in our outpatient clinic. But my first encounter with patients is often in the hospital after an urgent, life-threatening cardiac event. These hospitalizations are opportunities to teach patients about the importance of nutrition.

Accordingly, the American College of Cardiology, which recommends plant-based hospital meals, says “hospitalization can be a ‘teachable moment’ for patients ready to embrace nutrition.” Montefiore agrees and provides nutrition education and inpatient plant-based meals, which patients have enthusiastically embraced.

Now, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should sign the bill into law to help patients statewide make plant-based meals part of their healing process.

Dr. Robert Ostfeld,

  The Bronx


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.