NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - For the first time, a woman has been sworn in as chief of New York City's Emergency Medical Services. Lillian Bonsignore was appointed the position by Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
"I've known Lillian for many years. I know she is as dedicated as they come," Nigro said. "She brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and a tremendous commitment to training to this role."
Bonsignore was an 18-year-old single mom when she started as an emergency medical technician in 1991.
"This is a great feeling. What an amazing opportunity to be able to lead such an amazing group of people," Bonsignore said. "It's really my honor."
The Bronx native also becomes the FDNY's highest-ranked openly gay member.
"There are some folks out there—some young LGBTQ members that maybe don't see this as a possibility for them. And I want them to know that there is nothing that can stop them from finding success," Bonsignore said. "Not who they love, not whether they are a woman or a man. There's nothing that can get in their way."
Bonsignore will now supervise over 4,000 EMTs, paramedics, and other employees in the EMS Bureau. She will also be responsible for overseeing all EMS operations.
"I have worked for 28 years very hard to get to this point," Bonsignore said. "This is the best part of my career ever."
She will have help from Alvin Suriel, the newly appointed assistant chief of EMS operations.
"It's a great opportunity," Suriel said. "I am very honored to be chosen."
A 30-year veteran, Suriel is a Dominican from Washington Heights and is the first Hispanic to hold this position.
"Al, of course, is a man of great experience in EMS. He is beloved by the troops. He and Lillian work well together which is very, very important," Nigro said. "And they will work as a team to move us forward."