RIP Lt. Mathew Keene

I met Lt. Mathew Keene three years ago when I called 9/11 and was transported to Mount Sinai. As a WTC 9/11 First Responder – EMS operations myself. I understand completely the high level of stress this job entails. EMS Station 17 is right around the corner from my place of residence. I remember him as being Cool Calm & Collective. Extremely compassionate and caring human being. May he R.I.P.

An off-duty Fire Department EMS lieutenant was found dead of an apparent suicide this week in his Nyack home, and his union is blaming his death on the stress that first-responders have endured since the coronavirus pandemic.
When Lt. Matthew Keene did not show up for his shift at EMS Station 17 in the Bronx on Friday, co-workers and friends went to check on him at his home, where he lived alone.
When Keene, 38, didn’t answer, the pals had authorities break down the door. They found him dead of a gunshot to the head, said Vincent Variale, president of the EMS officers’ union.
Keene’s death after nine years on the job left his colleagues devastated.
“He was well-liked by everybody,” Variale said.
“Many people close to him feel it was a lot of stress,” Variale said.
“We believe this is part of the PTSD that many of our members have experienced in the pandemic.”

Keene’s apparent suicide is the second in the FDNY this year.
In April, rookie EMT John Mondello, 23 and less than three months on the job, shot himself at the peak of the pandemic as he faced the horrors of sick and dying patients.
This has a lot to do with the mayor constantly ignoring the needs of EMS and not supporting EMS in many different ways — staffing, pay, benefits and more important — mental health support.

Photos and words by Placido David Perez

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