Bill Ryan, a nearly 17-year Manhasset resident who responded to the 9/11 attacks as a volunteer emergency medical technician, died last August just eight weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Last Tuesday, his name was one of seven added to a memorial in Albany honoring emergency responders who died because of their service.
The state government adds names to the Tree of Life EMS Memorial annually. All of Tuesday’s seven honorees were 9/11 responders, and five of them died in 2018.
Ryan was a member of the Bay Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps in Bayside, Queens, when his company got the call on Sept. 11, 2001, to head to the World Trade Center. He was 18 blocks away when the first tower collapsed and two blocks away when the second did, his daughter Michaela Ryan, 19, said.
He and his crew transported injured civilians and firefighters to the nearest hospitals, she said.
“I remember him always telling me about the first person he took care of that day, which was a woman who was having a seizure on the sidewalk because she was hit on the head by debris,” Michaela Ryan said.
He spent 18 hours completing transports that first day and returned for the following two, rescuing handicapped individuals from buildings poisoned by dust and pulling firefighters out of the rubble.
“Whenever we call on them, our emergency medical service professionals selflessly protect the lives of New Yorkers across the state,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news release. “We honor the courage, dedication, and commitment of all EMS providers, and remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty or as a result of being exposed to 9/11 contaminants during their service. Their bravery and many contributions will not be forgotten.”
The Ryan family moved to Manhasset in November 2001, where Bill Ryan continued with the fire department service he had been dedicated to since age 17. He volunteered with the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department and Port Washington Fire Department and lived healthily and without cancer symptoms, said his wife, Deirdre Ryan.
Bill Ryan was someone who was always prepared, his older daughter said. He would keep a defibrillator in each of his family’s cars, and he trained his two daughters in first aid.
“He was compassionate, bold,” Michaela Ryan said, “A family man –”
“The epitome of a family man,” Deirdre Ryan agreed.
On his 50th birthday, he learned that he had Stage 4 lung cancer, she said. He died just days after their 20th wedding anniversary.
“He’s missed tremendously by a lot of people,” Deirdre Ryan said.
The Albany memorial now has 82 names, each featured on a leaf on a tree engraved at the Empire State Plaza.
Members of the Ryan family as well as members of ambulance companies that Bill Ryan volunteered with attended the ceremony last week.
Michaela Ryan just completed her first year as a nursing student at Adelphi University. She rode on an ambulance with her father for two years while becoming an EMT.
Her sister, Caroline, is a junior at Manhasset Secondary School and is also interested in becoming a first responder, Michaela Ryan said.
“I would say his legacy lives on in his children,” Deirdre Ryan said. “He was a blessing.”