Physiotherapist by day, Halesite firefighter by night: “I’m happy”
HALESITE, NY – Attilio Pensavalle grew up in a two-family home in Flushing. The house was behind a fire station. Pensavalle remembers walking past the fire station, where the firefighters would let him ring the bell which signified an alarm.
“I was always inside and outside the fire station,” Pensavalle told Patch. “I grew up behind, so I’ve always had an attraction to firefighters.”
Pensavalle is now Dr. Pensavalle. He is 65, lives in Halesite and owns FYZICAL Balance and Therapy Centers in Lake Success. However, being a physical therapist is only her day job.
In May 2020, the Pensavalle office was in the midst of a coronavirus-related closure. He and his wife had received a flyer from the Halesite Fire Department stating that there was a need for volunteers. Pensavalle, who aspired to join the FDNY and had started EMT training before schooling took over, jumped at the chance.
Pensavalle told his wife he wanted to intervene because he had read that volunteering was on the decline in the United States. He approached the Halesite Fire Department the following day.
“They told me they were training paramedics and firefighters, and that was music to my ears,” Pensavalle said. “It’s something I’ve always held very, very close to my heart.”
Pensavalle, a physiotherapist for 42 years, has long studied the anatomy, health and medical aspects of the human body. He found ways to apply his knowledge to his job as a firefighter and EMT, which he does nights and weekends.
“My experience as a PT really helps me with the medical aspects and how people suffer from different things,” Pensavalle said. “Whether it’s a fall with an injury they suffered or just a regular medical issue, my training is really helpful.”
Pensavalle said his work with the Halesite Fire Department engages him and gives him a chance to give back to the community.
“When you go to someone’s house, they are in bad shape,” he said. “The relief we see in their eyes when we get there. ‘Oh my God, it’s bad, and someone’s here to help us.’ It’s really something.”
Pensavalle said the department received a call a few weeks ago about a 3-year-old girl who was having difficulty breathing. She also had a breathing problem. An ambulance with four paramedics, a support car, the leader of the Halesite FD and local Suffolk Police all showed up.
“The parents were a wreck because naturally your child is in trouble and serious enough that you felt the need to call the ambulance,” Pensavalle said. “They were really, really worried. They looked much, much better when we had a whole team of people coming.”
There are also key differences between the two Pensavalle professions.
Patients who come to Pensavalle’s practice have medical reports they can trust, and he helps them in a calm, quiet and organized manner, he said.
However, when it comes to emergency calls to the fire station, Pensavalle said people drop everything, run to the fire station, get in the ambulance or fire truck and go to the alarm. .
“You really have to think really fast, think quickly and be able to react instantly to any problem,” he said. “There’s a real big difference between what I do during the day and what I do in the evenings and on the weekends. It’s still very, very rewarding.”
Pensavalle said he works with a large group of men and women who all have the same goal: to help the neighborhood. The department is a tight-knit community, he said.
Pensavalle has treated many firefighters, including some from the FDNY, over the years. He listened to their stories and thought back to his childhood memories.
“‘That’s something I would have loved to do,'” he said to himself as he listened to the stories of the firefighters.
“And now I do. I’m happy.”