Dedicated to Saving People
As a boy, James Pappageorge was afraid of doctors. But he spent much of his adult life learning about medicine and saving people — as an emergency medical technician, then a paramedic and, finally, a firefighter. "He was always carrying books, and he was always enrolled in some sort of course," said Gina Pinos, his fiancée.
Not that Firefighter Pappageorge was the bookish type. His 6-foot-1 bodybuilder's physique by itself drew attention. Then there was his hair — flowing locks that earned him the nickname Fabio before it was shorn for enrollment at the Fire Department academy. If that were not enough, there was a souped-up white Mustang, with flashing lights and an ambulance siren, "everything but the gurney," Ms. Pinos said.
It was not just for show. In the back, Firefighter Pappageorge, 29, carried a full medical kit, just in case. He decided to join the Fire Department, said his sister, Helen Pappageorge, because its schedule would leave him free time to be a paramedic.
Firefighter Pappageorge and Ms. Pinos were saving for a September 2002 wedding. Last Sept. 11, she phoned him just as Engine 23 was being sent to the trade center.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 10, 2002.