Almost five years after his death, an ex-captain of the Sound Beach Fire Department’s memory is still helping to save others.
Jim Ford passed away on June 2016 after serving in the department for more than two decades. A beloved member of not only the department, but also within the Sound Beach community, Ford always was there to help. His wife, Nancy, still participates and volunteers with the auxiliary.
“Jim filled many shoes out of the office and in the office,” said Bill Rosasco, first assistant chief. “He loved it. He loved doing it. He loved being here at the firehouse.”
On top of his many roles, he founded and ran the department’s January blood drive, so it was only fitting to name it after him in 2018 — the first drive after his passing.
And on Saturday, Jan. 16, his memory was brought back at the firehouse at 152 Sound Beach Blvd., getting people together for something good.
Ever since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, blood donations have been at an all-time low, according to the New York Blood Center. Schools, businesses and community centers halted blood drives early on, in fear of too many gatherings and the uneasiness of the virus.
The Sound Beach Fire Department usually hosts two blood drives in honor of their own. January is dedicated to Ford, while July memorializes Ex-Capt. John Drews Jr. But because of the pandemic, the July drive was canceled.
The drive this past weekend was the first since the pandemic began.
“We wanted to still run this blood drive,” said Chief Darran Handshaw. “Even though we shut the department down for all the other meetings, we still wanted to do this because we know how important it is.”
Handshaw said that everyone on the board wanted to make sure the January drive went on, despite the department shutdown.
“This is an emergency,” he added. “We need to get blood out there.”
He said that to make this month’s blood drive work, they took precautions including temperature monitoring, social distancing and a fogger machine that can decontaminate the room before the event and after.
But the drive wouldn’t be happening without Ford’s spirit.
“This would be something that Captain Ford would be here helping out with, even during [the pandemic],” Handshaw said. “It’s an honorable effort for an honorable man, so we’re going to do something honorable that serves the community for him and his death.”
Saturday’s event had more than 20 appointments, a dozen walk-ins and 31 pints of blood were collected, according to Margaret DeTurris, president of the department. Each pint of blood can help up to three people — so these 31 pints will impact 93 lives.
“Jim was a great example of wisdom and honor,” Handshaw said. “In my eyes, that inspired a lot of us to behave well and do the right thing for the community. He’s missed every day.”
The Sound Beach Fire Department is actively seeking volunteers to serve as firefighters and emergency medical technicians. The department provides free training for those positions. To join contact the chief’s office at 631-744-2294.