“He was a big part of the Montauk Fire Department, especially our EMS squad,” former Montauk Fire Department Chief Joe Lenahan said. Randy Hoffman, an emergency medical technician trained to provide critical care, had gone in for routine surgery to correct an issue in his back three months ago, and 30 hours later, woke up almost completely paralyzed.
Lenahan helped organize a fundraiser for Hoffman, called Pasta with a Purpose. The event raised $23,000 to go toward Hoffman’s expenses as he struggles to regain use of his limbs. Hoffman is currently living as an inpatient at San Simeon by the Sound, Inc, a nursing and rehabilitation center in Greenport.
Now, the Bridgehampton Fire Department is following suit, holding its own Pasta with a Purpose dinner, with an accompanying Chinese auction. That event takes place on Saturday, March 7, from 5 to 8 PM, at the Bridgehampton Fire Department at 64 School Street. It is being organized by Robin Murphy, Taylor Vecsey, and Nick Hemby, who is also the department’s first assistant chief. All three are EMTs who have worked with Hoffman, who has volunteered for departments across the South Fork.
Before Hoffman went in for his anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedure, he was working as the paid on-call critical care EMT on Saturdays in Sag Harbor and Sundays in Montauk.
Hoffman said Monday he has regained movement in his arms, as well as some in his left leg, and a bit in his right toes.
“I just want to get back to work,” he said.
While that goal may be reached after extended rehabilitation, when he finally does get himself onto a walker, Hoffman sees himself working as a toolmaker and machinist. It is a craft he learned after making spare parts for his 1940s collection of British racing motorcycles.
Hoffman choked up as he recalled a conversation with Lenahan where he told the former Montauk chief: “I don’t know how to pay you back for this.”
The former fire chief saw things quite the opposite.
“We’re paying you back,” Lenahan replied.
Lenahan said Sunday the Montauk Fire Department will be attending the Pasta with a Purpose dinner. The McCoy Bus Service company has donated a school bus for the day to the Montauk Fire Department, and it will likely be a crowded ride to Bridgehampton.
“We are like a big family,” Lenahan said.