Thousands of family, friends, colleagues, and members of emergency departments from across the country came to honor FDNY EMS Lt. Alison Russo-Elling at her funeral on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
The 61-year-old Huntington resident was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 29. A volunteer with the Huntington First Aid Squad for 30 years, a 25-year veteran with the FDNY, and a 9/11 first responder, she was posthumously promoted to FDNY EMS captain during the ceremony at the Tilles Center for Performing Arts on the LIU Post campus in Brookville.
“Our EMS members are known for being the best. Lt. Alison Russo exemplified the best of our best,” said FDNY Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh. “She lived a truly remarkable life. She was so dedicated and passionate about her work that she did it in her free time, too, as a volunteer, friend, and mentor.”
She was the “rock” of her family and “mother hen” of her work family at FDNY Station 49 in Queens, her loved ones said in their eulogies. Her brother, Craig Fuoco, and daughter, Danielle Fuoco, spoke during the service, as well as New York City Mayor Eric Adams and several of her colleagues. Her father, Frank Fuoco, also spoke on behalf of himself and her mother, Catherine Fuoco.
“There are countless people still walking this earth thanks to Alison and her dedication to her job,” Craig said. “I was proud of my big sister and all of her work accomplishments, particularly during 9/11 and her promotion to lieutenant.”
Craig added that his children called their Aunt Alison “a rescue hero, which is exactly what she was.”
It is estimated that Russo-Elling responded to 25,000 emergency calls throughout her career. She had been preparing to retire six months before she was killed, her family said.
Russo-Elling was on duty and buying food near 20th Avenue and Steinway Street in Queens when she was stabbed multiple times in a vicious, unprovoked attack in broad daylight. She was transported to Mount Sinai Queens Hospital in critical condition and died of her injuries at the hospital. According to the FDNY, she is the 1,158th FDNY member to die in the line of duty.
The man accused of her killing, 34-year-old Peter Zisopoulos, was escorted out of the New York City Police Department’s 114th Precinct in shackles on Sept. 30 and taken to a hospital for evaluation, according to a spokesperson for the Queens district attorney’s office.
During the funeral, Adams called Russo-Elling “a hero,” speaking directly to her family about the senseless tragedy of her murder, and said he would “turn pain into purpose” to fight violent crime in the city.
“For your loss, I am sorry, and for the violence that has taken so many people in this city,” he said. “We cannot bring her back but today the commissioner and I are promoting her to the rank of captain, and we want you to know what a brave woman your daughter, your mother was.”
FDNY members escorted the family in and out of the service. Bagpipes played as members brought the casket in and out of an FDNY EMS ambulance that said “Alison Russo-Elling Station 49” on its side.