When Pope Benedict XVI visits New York City later this month, that job will fall to 14 paramedics from St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan. They have been chosen to work in 12-hour shifts during the pope's three-day stay, ready to race to a hospital in case of an emergency.In related news, New York 1 News reports that religious leaders gathered at St. Vincent's Hospital in the West Village Friday to bless the ambulance used to tend to Pope Benedict XVI (in the event of an emergency):
The medics, three of whom worked the detail during Pope John Paul II's 1995 visit, were chosen based on experience, said Phil Eguiguiurens, director of the St. Vincent's ambulance department.
"It's definitely not a 911 call," said Eguiguiurens, 42, of Bay Ridge. "He'll be treated by us and then taken to one of the hospitals designated on the route. My mind is racing right now. It's definitely an honor."
In order to be part of the detail, Eguiguiurens and his team went through a Secret Service background check, he said. In the next week, they will go through a special one-day, eight-hour motorcade course held by New York Police Department, the city Fire Department and the Secret Service, Eguiguiurens said.
A few days before the pope arrives, the medic staff will be given a briefing of his physical condition, he said.
"You can't take anything for granted," Eguiguiurens said. "Hopefully, nothing happens."
After receiving a special blessing, rig #1770 out of St. Vincent's Hospital will be the one and only ambulance traveling in Pope Benedict's motorcade during his visit to New York City in two weeks.
"This blessing puts into the right perspective the care we take of the sick people," said Archbishop Celestino Migliore. "We Christians visit and take care of the sick. So we dedicate the utmost competence and care to the sick. But also we want to recognize that we are in the hands of God."