Street Naming Event Honors Heroic Legacy of EMT and 9/11 Hero, Hilda Vannata

Mohamed Farghaly

Councilman Robert Holden and FDNY officials commemorate Hilda Vannata’s legacy by co-naming a street in Middle Village, Queens, in her honor.


The memory of Hilda Vannata, a beloved Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) was honored on April 12 by Councilman Robert Holden of the 30th Council District of Queens, in collaboration with FDNY officials and local union representatives by co-naming a street in her name.

The ceremony, held on what would have been Vannata’s 68th birthday, marked the unveiling of Hilda Vannata Way at the intersection of 77th Place and Juniper Valley Road in Middle Village. Vannata, who passed away on September 20th, 2023, after battling 9/11-related pancreatic cancer, served admirably for 27 years at FDNY Battalion Station House 14 in the Bronx.

The ceremony began with a rendition of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, afterward First Deputy Commissioner, Joseph Pfeifer was the first to speak. Addressing the assembled crowd, painted a vivid picture of Vannata’s unwavering commitment to her community.

“The street naming is a special time, it’s a point in time, where we leave a permanent memory of Hilda and her supreme sacrifice to the city of New York,” Pfeifer said. “Hilda for 27 years, served the people of the Bronx, in EMS station 14. A matter of fact, I was talking to some of the EMS members here and they said they called her ‘Mother of the house’ because she took care of everybody. She is an inspiration to all of us and to the people that walk down this block.”

Pfeifer spoke of Vannata’s pivotal role on September 11, 2001, when she bravely responded to the World Trade Center attacks, putting her own life at risk to help rescue and care for those injured in the tragedy. Her courageous actions that day, along with her dedicated service throughout her career, left an indelible mark on the FDNY and the city of New York as a whole.

A little under a year ago we lost a member of the Fire Department family when Emergency Medical Technician Hilda Vanessa succumbed to her hard fought battle with cancer,” Assistant Chief of Emergency Medical Services Paul Miano said. “Hilda was a loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, and a critical strand of the fabric that makes up this department. Hilda did not just help people because she was an EMT. answering a call for help was her life’s work.”

Councilmember Robert Holden, reflecting on Vannata’s lifetime of service, hailed her as a paragon of excellence in emergency medical services. He emphasized her resilience in the face of adversity, noting her battle with 9/11-related pancreatic cancer, a testament to her enduring strength and determination.

“Today we celebrate Hilda’s lifetime service, highlighting 27 years as an emergency medical technician at FDNY,” Holden said. “Her dedication and bravery set a standard of excellence in emergency medical services and made a profound impact on countless lives through her compassionate care. Her journey to becoming a pivotal member of New York City’s emergency services, is a perfect American success story.”

The decision to co-name the intersection of 77th Place and Juniper Valley Road in Middle Village after Vannata was met with unanimous support, symbolizing the lasting impact she had on her neighborhood and the broader city. Holden underscored the significance of the gesture, stressing that it’s not merely about the sign but about honoring the lives behind it and the profound contributions made by first responders like Vannata.

“This is the neighborhood of first responders,” Holden said. “This community is full of first responders that are all heroes, all of them. And I’m proud of that. Hilda’s resilience in battling this horrific illness showed us a strong spirit she had and serves as an inspiration to everyone.”

Mohamed Farghaly

Officials spoke passionately at the ceremony, highlighting Hilda Vannata’s unwavering dedication to serving her community as an EMT and honoring her legacy with the unveiling of Hilda Vannata Way.


Among those in attendance were Vannata’s husband, John, and son, Andy Martinez, both active members of the NYPD, along with numerous family members, friends, and colleagues. Their presence served as a poignant reminder of the deep sense of loss felt by Vannata’s loved ones and the extended FDNY family.

“She, like many other women in this city, did their thing, they made this city what it is over time,” John Vannata said.

In addition to the street dedication, the city council is establishing a new law to create a database honoring all fallen heroes like Hilda, recognizing the profound impact of their service beyond symbolic gestures, ensuring that their legacies of selflessness are preserved for generations to come.

Offering poignant reflections, retired EMT Mo Perez, a close friend of Hilda Vannata, shares cherished memories of their time together at station 14 during the ceremony.

“I can say she brought love to all those who cross her path, especially at station 14,” Perez said. “Hilda was aware of everyone’s birthday, she would put stickers on station mirrors with the dates of those birthdays that will come up so that everyone can be prepared for their contributions. For the holidays, she made sure that the station was ready for celebration of the occasion. She was a great partner and a great party planner. As an EMT, Hilda provided the best patient care to all those who were treated to heal them. Everyone was like family under her care.”

During the ceremony, held on April 12, which would have marked Hilda Vannata’s 68th birthday, her son took a moment to reflect on the significance of the occasion. Just days shy of his own milestone birthday, he expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity to honor his Mother in a meaningful way.

“Today I would have caught up with her in the morning and wished her a happy birthday,” Andy Vannata said. “A Mother is a Son’s first true love, a Son, especially the first Son is a Mother’s last true love. That resonated with me as well as it was touching. Your endless love has made a difference in who I’ve come to be. Mom, your love has come full circle as I now love and honor you. You are in my heart for all you are and all that you do. Happy Birthday Mom.”

As the ceremony drew to a close, attendees were encouraged to carry Vannata’s legacy of service and compassion forward in their own lives. Her name on the newly dedicated street sign will serve as a perpetual reminder to future generations of her heroism and unwavering dedication to helping others.

To honor Vannata’s memory in a poignant finale, a stirring bagpipe performance filled the air, providing a fitting tribute to her enduring contributions.  The crowd watched as the sign bearing Hilda Vannata’s name was unveiled to the public. Etched with the words “Hilda Vannata Way,” it will now stand as a permanent fixture at the intersection. The newly dedicated  will stand as a timeless reminder of her heroism, reminding all who pass by of Vannata’s heroism and unwavering dedication to helping others.

Mohamed Farghaly

Community members, officials and family gathered to remember and pay tribute to Hilda Vannata’s dedication and service during the unveiling ceremony of Hilda Vannata Way.