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Richard J. McAllan

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(Asbury Park Press)

Richard J. McAllan, 58, of New York City formerly of Wanamassa, Ocean Township, died Thursday, March 26, 2009, at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Washington Heights. He died of complications following quadruple bypass surgery. He is survived by his two brothers, Robert, of Wall Township and Frank, of Ashville, N.C., and his loving mother, Grace of Ocean Township.
Richard was the former President of Emergency Medical Service Local 2507 of District Council 37, and a New York City EMS Senior paramedic. A member of the first Paramedic class to graduate from Jacobi Hospital in 1974, Richard was a dedicated street medic who fought passionately to save lives. An idealist, he became a foe of a City bureaucracy which he believed did not serve the best interests of the public by not adequately funding EMS services.
As President, Richard made sensational news in exposing many cases of deadly delays that put New Yorkers lives in jeopardy. In the 1980s and 1990s he was part of a union team that forced the City of New York to shift budget resources, doubling EMS staffing and lowering EMS response times to critical emergencies from 12 to 15 minutes at its worst to six or seven minutes setting the stage for today's typical four to six minute response times for category 1 calls. Many people who never knew Richard or were treated by him are alive today because he fought so hard on their behalf.
In the 1980s he was pro active in identifying defects in the EMS ambulances the City had designed and put in service for unsafe conditions, including the tendency to catch on fire when left idling for extended periods of time. As a result the City replaced the entire fleet.
A tenacious fighter for justice and workers' rights, he never came across a cause that he believed was hopeless or a grievance that he felt he couldn't win. He was a bitter foe of the 1996 takeover of EMS by the NYC Fire Department. He later challenged in court the City's decision to buy substandard digital two way radios in the late 1990s, saying they would not be reliable in high rise buildings. Tragically, he was proven right on 9/11 with the loss of hundreds of NYC firefighters in the World Trade Center. That case was still pending upon his death.
Richard's battle against sometimes corrupt and unjust authority was a central characteristic dating back to his youth. A constant adversary of bullies in any form, he often put himself out to suffer the brunt of abuse. He was fearless in this regard. In grammar and high school he was a selfless supporter of anyone in distress. Often aligning himself with underdogs, he bore their retribution and remained undaunted. He was always a child and man of courage and conviction and compassion. For those who were his friends, when asked, their problems became Richard's as well. He spared not time nor expense to help those in need.
A hobby and favorite past time was his love of antique cars, from his first Pontiac Tempest convertible, to his Toyota Celica to his black Volvo. He also helped a close friend restore a 1967 Pontiac Catalina, an award winning fully restored muscle car of the 1960's.
Richard never married but over a 35 year span remained close to his dearest friend, Debbie Cross, of Elmsford, NY. She stayed at his bedside throughout the six weeks of his ordeal giving him the strength, courage and love he needed to fight his final battle.
Richard loved everyone around him and they, in turn, became part of his family. He will be missed by all.
Friends and family are invited to call from 7 to 9 PM on Monday, March 30, 2009, and from 2 to 4 PM on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, at the Ely Funeral Home 3316 Hwy. 33, Neptune, NJ 07753. A Funeral Mass will be held at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, at Holy Spirit Church, Asbury Park. Condolences may also be made online at

Published in Asbury Park Press on Mar. 29, 2009
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