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Saturday October 6, 2012 has been proclaimed Chris Eldridge Day in Wellsville and Allegany County. The 43-year old has invested three decades of his life to volunteer and public service. The event will coincide with the annual EMS Expo to be held at Riverwalk Plaze in Wellsville from 9-2. For the past 21 years, he has battled cancer. At age 22, Eldridge was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. In and out of hospitals from an early age, the Wellsville native once again finds himself battling the illness at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Eldridge is well-known for his career at WLSV and WJQZ radio stations in Wellsville as a DJ and News Director. For thirty years, he has also been affiliated at various times with the Wellsville ambulance, rescue and fire departments, the Allegany County 911 Center, Wellsville Police Department and as the Emergency Manager for both the Village and Town of Wellsville. In four short decades, he has managed to accrue a vast number of honors and awards to include the New York State EMS Communications Specialist of the Year for his work in creating an emergency database of oxygen-dependent people and those with significant medical issues that require help during emergencies. As one close friend said today, "no matter how sick Chris was, he always seemed to muster the energy to get out of bed and help on an ambulance call or other emergency." Proclamations are expected Saturday from Wellsville Mayor Judy Lynch, Town Supervisor Dar Fanton and Allegany County Legislative Chair Curt Crandall. New York State Senator Cathy Young may also add thoughts as well. To view an overview of Eldridge's achievements, click the Read More link below...
Christopher D. Eldridge
before Chris was able to drive a car, he was driving music at WLSV AM 790.During his pre-teen and early teen years,
Chris would spend his Saturday mornings with Bill Jones, who hosted the morning
show. In the late 70’s and early 80’s Chris answered phones, helped collect
news and from time to time, spun a record.
February 3, 1986, WJQZ signed on the air in Wellsville as Allegany County’s
first commercial FM radio station. Later that year, Chris joined WJQZ as a late
night and weekend DJ and newscaster. His job duties grew from part time to full
time. In December 1988, Chris was part of the news crew that broke a major
story in Allegany County history. On what should have been a quiet and routine
Saturday morning, Chris discovered that the New York State Low Level
Radioactive Waste Siting Commission had selected three locations in Allegany
County as targets for a waste dump. Chris and others broke that story 48 hours before
it was supposed to be made public. Chris and crew immediately became the
information portal for regional and national news outlets. In January 1993, he
took over the helm as the morning drive host on WJQZ. Also that January, he
became the host of the WLSV talk show “Contact 790” where he interviewed
members of Congress, members of the New York Legislature, local politicians as
well as area newsmakers.
1991, at age 22, Chris was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. In a tell-all
radio interview, Chris detailed his treatments and prognosis to the listening
audience and helped educate people dealing with similar situations.
February 11, 1994, in a ceremony performed live on WJQZ, Chris married Renee D.
Walsh. It was a first for local radio…and a first for newly elected Wellsville
Mayor Sue Goetchsius who presided over the wedding.
November 1995, Chris again covered breaking news when the South Main Lumber
complex in Wellsville erupted in fire, closing schools and prompting a state of
emergency. Chris provided minute-by-minute updates to WKPQ/WHHO radio in
Hornell as a special news anchor.
January 1996, Chris was appointed as the Emergency Manager for the Town of
Wellsville. Shortly thereafter, he was also appointed to the same position for
the Village of Wellsville.
January 19, 1996, Chris helped manage a major disaster in Wellsville. On that
date, heavy rain and rapid snow melt lead to the third largest crest in
recorded history for the Genesee River in Wellsville (16.13 feet). In
consultation with the Town Supervisor, a State of Emergency was declared.
Evacuations were coordinated. During the same time, a major fire consumed an
auto dealership on Bolivar Road in Wellsville.
Awards and accomplishments
Chris was a radio guy, he was no stranger to TV as well. On April 15, 1995,
Chris provided commentary to WIVB-TV after a car crash of East State Street in
Wellsville. That crash eventually claimed five lives.Chris also provided content to WIVB on
multiple significant plane crashes in Wellsville and Independence.
Tuesday May 12, 1992, Chris worked his first shift as an Emergency Services
Dispatcher for the Wellsville Police Department.
the mid 1990’s, Chris was awarded the EMS COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST OF THE YEAR
AWARD, presented by the New York State EMS Council. Chris received the award
for developing a database of oxygen dependent people in the 593 calling prefix.
The database was used during emergencies and power outages to ensure that
people did not run low on Oxygen.
to joining the Wellsville PD, Chris was a 911 Dispatcher for the Allegany
County Communications Center.
2000, Chris led the way for the Wellsville 911 Center & Police Department
to adopt Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) policies when people dialed 911 for
medical emergencies. Later that year, he and two others traveled to Rock Hill,
South Carolina and became internationally certified as EMD Instructors. Chris
and colleagues then taught the first EMD course for all 911 dispatchers in
Allegany County. Countless lives have since been saved.
May 2002, Chris received the Community Service Award presented by the
Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce.
most recent times, despite wrestling with significant health issues, Chris set
his sights on public office. He ran for Allegany County Coroner in his first
bid for publicly elected office.
the last several years, Chris has been an active correspondent for 1st
Responder News online.
Chris Eldridge-Volunteer Service
1981, at age 12, Chris became a junior member of the Allegany County Office of
Emergency Services Rescue Squad. At the time, the squad was the only agency
that provided countywide rescue service, to include the Jaws of Life rescue
tool and heavy extrication equipment. The squad, located about a ½ mile from
his home, was easily within bicycle distance. When not on two wheels, he could
be found “riding shotgun” with his father Dale. Former Rescue Chief Jim
Cicirello noted that the “equipment was spotless” when Chris was around and “he
knew where everything was!”Chris later
joined the Wellsville Volunteer Ambulance Corps and in 1994, the two
organizations merged into a single entity.
December 19, 1994, the ambulance corps established the Rural Rapid Intervention Program (RRIP), a first for independent
ambulance corps in New York State.Working with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the late Senator Pat
McGee, the ambulance corps equipped private vehicles with life-saving equipment
and red lights and sirens. Each private vehicle was then New York State
certified as an official emergency vehicle. It was then that Chris became a
Rescue Chief, replacing longtime chief Jim Cicirello. For the past 18 years,
Chris has remained an elected Rescue Chief in Wellsville. Chris’ tireless
efforts even earned him the Chet Weaver
Memorial Member of the Award, a prestigious honor bestowed by fellow
members for service. On one occasion, while a patient at Jones Memorial
Hospital, he wheeled himself and his IV to a window and, with radio in hand,
coordinated an emergency Mercy Flight landing.
those who remember the tv show “Baywatch,” Wellsville Ambulance/Rescue
purchased the yellow rescue truck featured on the tv show. Chris and others
traveled to the west coast to pick up the truck.Little did the Hollywood producers know, a
movie script had been left in the truck, complete with personal cell phone
numbers for the actors. Did Chris ever call the bikini-clad actresses from the
show? What do you think…
Kudos go out to Preston "Roy" Lucas of Wellsville, who pushed for the "Eldridge Day." Lucas, a former county legislator, was also a long time member of the Wellsville Volunteer Ambulance Corps.. In addition, thanks go to former Wellsville Police Chief and ambulance/rescue member Jim Cicirello, who played a vital role in making the award happen.