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Friday, September 2, 2011

Some thoughts on David P. Lemagne, PAPD, UMDNJ, JCMC, UCVAC

By Steven P. Velasquez, NREMTP
September 1, 2011

This post was originally written in a Facebook group honoring the memory of a dear friend and leader in the emergency services field.  David, like so many others, exchanged his life on 11th September, 2001 so that others may live.  His legacy lives on in the collective memories of those of us who knew and loved him.  We keep David, and others, alive by telling and retelling his stories, by displaying his image and by granting access to his family.

This year, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Union City, NJ will honor David's memory by renaming the street where the David P. Lemagne EMS building is located.  16th St. between New York Ave. and Palisade Ave. will now be known as "David Lemagne Way."  Additionally, the Union City Museum will be unveiling a section focusing on the 9/11 attacks and will now have personal memorabilia of David's proudly on display there.  All are invited by the Lemagne family to join them on September 9, 2011 at 12 p.m. at 16th st. & New York Ave. in Union City for the ceremony.

When I first started with Union City E.M.S., David, a high school student, was a member of the Explorer Post (A youth squad sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America BSA). David was older than the other explorers and showed strong leadership skills even at his tender age of 15.

When we first met, the ambulance corps. was having a carnival to raise funds at Saints. Joseph and Michael Church on Central Ave. in Union City.
St. Joseph and Michael Church
Union City, NJ Photo Courtesy of

We arrived to standby at the event and I parked my van along the center median with David and the other excited explorers in the back. I turned to David and said, "Whatever you do, don't (CRASH-BANG!) -- open that door."  A tad too late.

David had opened the side door right into an oncoming vehicle. The damage cost me about $500.00 and plenty of heartache. That was when and how we first met.  An indelible memory one can assume.

Over the years, I watched David become an EMT, graduate High School, become a Paramedic and a man.

David was a kind soul with a huge smile and a resounding laugh. He was also courageous! I remember we had a maternity call that we took to Palisade General. The patient was full term on her 8th, or so (remember, it's Union City), pregnancy and stated that her water had broke. She showed NO signs of pain, not a wince, a flinch or a peep during the entire transport.

Upon arrival at PGH, the ER staff asked if we'd do them a favor and bring her up to L&D. It wasn't our normal practice but they were busy and we were in good spirits so, we obliged and took the stretcher to the elevator.

The patient was calm and pain free.   Still, no outward signs that delivery might have been imminent! While in the elevator, I'm standing behind the stretcher, unable to move. I asked David to check for crowning. He shoots me a look like "no way, we're almost there." David was an executive board member of the ambulance corps. at the time, so he was wearing his shiny white dress uniform shirt. I asked David a little more emphatically, "Check her for crowning!" I had a gut feeling that something was wrong. Again, David looks at me and motions that he didn't even have gloves on. I shot back a forceful stare (do it!). Reluctantly, David picks up the sheet, his eyes almost fell out of his head.

"Holy Shit! Steve, it's coming out!" he exclaimed.
"Pick it up!!"
"Steve it's totally out!"
"Pick it up!!"

Finally, we arrive at the L&D floor only to be met by a door that requires being buzzed in. I kick, I pound, I'm ringing the buzzer. Meanwhile, mom is hemorrhaging and delivering the placenta and David is just about to throw up.

Some short Philippino nurse with an attitude is on the other side of the window, barely tall enough to be seen.

"Wha' you wan'?"
"Open the door!!" I shouted.
"Wha' you wan'??"

I hold the slimy newborn (still attached to the mother via the umbilical cord) up in the window so she could see it.

"Open the FUCKING DOOR!"

Finally, she let us in and they took care of New Jersey's newest recipient of public assistance! Everyone was fine. The biggest injury was some blood on David's previously clean shirt.

David (right) with the UMDNJ EMS Bike Team

Over the years, young David went on to become a Paramedic, a Tour Chief for Jersey City E.M.S., a Ride Master with UMDNJ's bike team and a Police Officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. I was and am so incredibly proud of all of David's accomplishments.

Last known photograph of David operating at
the World Trade Center the morning of 09-11-2001
On 11th September, 2001, David answered his last call as he bid farewell to his friend Pablo Lopez, threw his morning coffee away, vanished into the PATH station, crossed the Hudson and spent his last hours rescuing who knows how many from the fiery World Trade Center in NYC.

Months later, hundreds gathered to bid farewell to David P. Lemagne. Cops, Pipers, Firefighters, Paramedics and EMT's came from everywhere. One soldier in a U.S. Army uniform, tapped me on the shoulder and looked surprised when I couldn't remember him at a first glance. It was David Kamienski, another UCEMS explorer who was a part of David's group. David Kamienski had been granted leave from his base in Germany to attend this event. I couldn't believe my watery eyes.

The church pews filled and soon it was standing room only. So many of David's former explorer post members were there as cops, firefighters, paramedics and soldiers. The "Latin Little Rascals" as I used to call them had come of age and were now reunited to bid farewell to their brother, their leader.

We gathered that cold November day by the hundreds. We gathered at Saint Joseph and Michael's Church on Central Ave. in Union City.  My opening and closing memory of David remains at the intersections of 14th St. and Central Ave.

We miss you brother.


  1. Thanks Steve. I truly miss him. I always look for him to be leaving the TV room to make his way back to the lunch room to take on the events of crew attacks. "your momma....... "

  2. Thank you for posting a comment Rich. AFter our parking lot conversation last night, I know how hard this was for you. Keep a candle lit in your heart for David's memory and his surviving family this coming week.

    Your brother,