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Feb 9, 2015 1:35 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

UPDATE: Services Set For Hampton Bays Paramedic Ralph Oswald

Feb 11, 2015 3:12 PM

UPDATE: Tuesday, 3 p.m.

Visiting hours for Mr. Oswald will be held on Thursday and Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Headquarters on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays. A prayer service will be held on Friday at 3 p.m., and EMS services will be held at 7:30 p.m., both at the ambulance barn.

A mass of Christian burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at St. Rosalie's Church in Hampton Bays. A private cremation will follow at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Center Moriches.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps at P.O. Box 997, Hampton Bays, NY, 11946.


A Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps paramedic died in the line of duty Monday morning while responding to a call, according to EMS officials.

Ralph Oswald, 64, of Hampton Bays collapsed and went into cardiac arrest as he and crew members were on a 9 a.m. call about an unresponsive man found inside his home on Gravel Hill Road, authorities said.

As he was evaluating the man, Mr. Oswald told crew members that he was experiencing pain before collapsing, according to a press release from Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services. He was tended to by members of the Hampton Bays and Southampton Village volunteer ambulance corps, and immediately taken to Southampton Hospital.

The husband and father of two was pronounced dead after several attempts, both in the ambulance and at the hospital, to resuscitate him.

“He’s an exceptional paramedic,” Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps Chief Rich Capuano said on Tuesday morning of Mr. Oswald, whom he had known for the past decade. “His skills are excellent … and he’s a stand-up guy who would do anything for anyone.”

Mr. Oswald worked full time for the ambulance company as the in-house supervisor for the staff of paid first responders who assist the volunteer EMTs and ambulance drivers, the latter of whom constitute the bulk of the membership.

“We were pretty close—he’s definitely going to be missed,” added Christopher Fraser, 1st assistant chief of the Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps. “It was definitely a blow to the department.”

In addition to his paramedic duties, Mr. Oswald taught classes as an EMT instructor and was the Hampton Bays outfit’s Continuing Medical Education officer, helping volunteers from across the South Fork and beyond maintain their certification. Mr. Oswald taught the classes monthly at the ambulance company’s main headquarters, according to Mr. Fraser.

“It’s going to be a large blow to the department itself,” he said about Mr. Oswald’s passing. “He’s done a lot of things for the department itself.”

To allow the outfit’s 95 members time to grieve, ambulance companies from across Suffolk County have been volunteering crews to cover shifts in Hampton Bays for the next 72 hours, according to Chief Capuano. He explained that the offering of assistance is a common courtesy among volunteer companies, stating that the time off will allow members to both mourn and remember their friend and coworker.

Starting on Monday, counseling services have been offered to volunteers, including the estimated dozen members who responded to the call along with Mr. Oswald.

“We’ve had an outpouring of support that’s unbelievable …” Chief Capuano said. “We’ve had, at times, two or three corps here at the same time.”

On Monday evening, ambulance companies from Shirley, Mastic Beach and South Country volunteered crews to handle Hampton Bays calls, according to Mr. Fraser. Chief Capuano said the coverage will most likely continue until wake and funeral services are finalized later today for Mr. Oswald, who leaves behind a wife, Suzanne, and two sons, Cameron, 19, and Ralph, 17.

Cameron Oswald is a volunteer with Hampton Bays and was taught by his later father. His younger brother, meanwhile, is a junior member of the organization and currently enrolled in the EMT class that was being instructed by his father.

“It was a normal day,” Chief Capuano said, when asked if Mr. Oswald had complained earlier about any sort of discomfort.

In a Monday posting on Facebook, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone offered his “thoughts and prayers” to Mr. Oswald’s family, adding that he dedicated his life to volunteering. Prior to working for the Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Mr. Oswald served as a member of the North Lindenhurst and Dix Hill fire departments, and the Ocean Beach Volunteer Fire Company.

“We are indebted to Ralph and all of our first responders who risk their lives every day in order to protect and save us in our time of need,” Mr. Bellone stated.

“In honor of Ralph’s invaluable service and his sacrifice,” he continued, “I have ordered flags in Suffolk County to be flown at half staff. May God bless Ralph, his family, and all emergency personnel.”

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So very sad for the HB Volunteer Ambulance, our thoughts and prayers are with both families.
By Bond007 (22), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 15 2:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
RIP Ralph. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 15 2:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
How very sad! May he rest in peace and may his family take solace that he was a HERO in our Hamlet of Hampton Bays! Deepest sympathy to his wife and family!
By carsrus (65), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 15 2:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
He attended to me twice. A nice guy and a good paramedic. My sympathy to his family.
By george kazdin (3), hampton bays on Feb 9, 15 2:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ralph was a real Hampton Bays Hero, my heart goes out to his family!
By RexRuger (3), Punta Gorda, Florida on Feb 9, 15 2:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ralph Oswald was a true Hero, He died doing what he loved for the people of Hampton Bays. RIP Ralph
By AllenSchneider (2), Hampton Bays, New York on Feb 9, 15 3:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
I am so sorry. Iwas a member in the 80's and 9o. Rip friend.
By rescue745 (5), port st lucie on Feb 9, 15 3:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ralph was a true hero. Always a smile and willing to go above and beyond for anyone... he will surely be missed.Condolences to his wife, children and his EMS family as well.
By eqresident (4), East Quogue on Feb 9, 15 4:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
I loved Ralph. He came on several calls to aid my husband and my mother, both now deceased. He was always so upbeat and kind. I am very distressed to hear the news and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
I am sure God will be good to him for his loving service.
By baywoman (165), southampton on Feb 9, 15 4:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
RIP and thanks for your service
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Feb 9, 15 4:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Devastating news. Once of the most dedicated and generous people you could ever hope to meet. Always so helpful, upbeat and positive. Absolutely loved what he did and it showed. My heart goes out to his wife and family. I will miss his presence tremendously.
By Joe Louchheim, Publisher (9), Sagaponack on Feb 9, 15 5:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Shocked. Stunned. Disbelief. Shaken. Horrified.

Rest in Peace, my friend!
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 15 5:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Rest in peace Ralph.
By Woods woman (145), East hampton on Feb 9, 15 6:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you for your service. Rest in Peace.
By Gene10x (27), Southampton on Feb 9, 15 7:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
Very sad day, a great man, he will be sorely missed!
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Feb 9, 15 10:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
RIP Thoughts are with your family. How did the man he was helping do?
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Feb 10, 15 8:16 AM
1 member liked this comment
Hampton Bays is a better place because of Ralph. Suffolk County has lost a great medic, teacher, and mentor. Please continue to look out for all of us from above.
By HBNative (15), Hampton Bays on Feb 10, 15 8:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
By AnthonyJohn (1), Lake Ronkonkoma, New York on Feb 10, 15 4:03 PM
Thoughts and prayers to this gentleman's family.........thank you for your dedication and service to the community
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Feb 11, 15 7:24 AM
Thoughts and prayers, and thank you's for your years of committed service.
By guest (68), Bridgehampton on Feb 12, 15 3:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Watchdog: the patient died from cardiac arrest as well. Double tragedy. Sad that 27 east isn't adding the tragedy of a second death. Of course we want to be appreciative to the dedication of mr Oswald but the patient was a human being as well. Maybe some well wishes for them should be press worthy as well.
By SHTownHB (75), Hampton Bays on Feb 13, 15 2:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe the family did not not want information released about the first patient.
By metsfan2 (163), southampton on Feb 13, 15 7:22 PM
The truth is the patient was a pronouncement. That means already deceased when paramedic Oswald arrived. Not to diminish the passing of the patient as understood. Mr. Oswald will be missed!
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Feb 15, 15 10:23 PM
The lump in my stomach has been constant all day with the news of the passing of Ralph Oswald. What a good guy a funny guy who made everybody happy. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He went out the best way anybody could have helping someone. Seeing him go after working so hard to get in shape makes you wonder about your own life. Looking at his FB comments just another day can’t wait to go home to his family, wishing everyone well. Take care old friend, watch out over your family! ...more
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Apr 21, 15 12:07 AM