At 80 years old, Gerry Cross is a top-notch EMT and a mentor to his peers at Helderberg Ambulance in Albany County, New York. In 2018, Cross received both the Hudson Mohawk regional award for “Basic Life Support Provider of the Year” and the New York State EMS Council “EMS Provider of the Year” award.
Commenting on his awards, Cross responds humbly, “Yes, it has been quite a year for me, but this is not about me, this is about Helderberg Ambulance,” he says. “It takes a lot of teamwork and, of course, you cannot do it by yourself. It takes a lot to get an ambulance service together.”
He has a special knack for providing support, motivation and confidence to the new EMTs in the agency. “We really like to have young people ride with us,” he says. “If they like it, we encourage them to get training. Then we mentor them,” says Cross.
Cross received first-aid training in the U.S. Army in 1961, and when he returned home, he put his skills to work as a volunteer with the Berne Volunteer Fire Co. (EMS now operates as Helderberg Ambulance Squad). He never let his EMT card lapse while working full-time as a draftsman for General Electric and helping to raise his three children.
Incredibly sharp and robust at 80, there seems to be no slowing down for Cross. In fact, his retirement from General Electric after 40 years has simply given him more time to volunteer. Day or night, Cross responds to drive the ambulance or be in the patient compartment to attend to the sick or injured. He works on his EMS continuing education every year to stay current. In 2017, he responded to 171 of the squad’s 434 calls.
“I am still doing this simply because I enjoy it,” says Cross. “And, physically, I still can. I still enjoy helping people who need it.”