Since we first began the weekly salute to First Responders, we have honored firefighters, police officers, paramedics, corrections officers, and forest rangers. When the pandemic hit, we added front-line and essential workers to those deserving our thanks and prayers. This week we salute Staff Sgt. Alyssa Christine Volkmer, a member of the under-appreciated Air National Guard.

When COVID was first running rampant in New York City, Alyssa was one of the first called to Downstate testing facilities to collect samples. Her orders were to pack for a two week assignment, but as the pandemic continued to spread it became six months of swabbing thousands of people per day at Stoney Brooke COVID Testing Tents.

Once her duties were completed, Alyssa returned home to Herkimer only to be sent packing again on an even scarier mission. She serves in the Air National Guard as an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician. This time duty called for a six month overseas deployment, flying several missions into combat zones evacuating patients requiring higher levels of medical care.

For her work at the COVID tents in the city, Senior Airman Alyssa C. Volkmer was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal and shortly later promoted to Staff Sergeant. She has been with the Air National Guard for six years and remains enlisted awaiting the next assignment.

Staff Sgt. Volkmer, thank you for choosing to serve others not just at home, but anywhere there is a need, no matter the risk.

Do you know a first responder that deserves to be recognized? Tell us about someone who should be honored in Central New York - a firefighter, police officer, EMT, forest ranger, paramedic, DEC officers, military, rescuers, front line workers, or any other person first on the scene.

Include their name, a picture and why they should be recognized during 'First Responder Friday." We'll honor one first responder every Friday and as a way to say thank you, we'll give them a Bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

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